#24MAG is a collaborative, creative, and transparent endurance publishing event. #24MAG is made for and by people working in creative fields. We try to make every issue of #24MAG, from start to finish, in 24 hours. We document our process online.
Editor-in-Chief: Sara Eileen Hames Editor-at-Large: Rose Jasper Fox Art Directors: Molly Macdonald, Lucia Reed Photo Editor: Johanna Bobrow Transmedia Chain Editor: Casey Middaugh Community Manager: Ian Danskin Editors: Ben Cordes, Rose Ginsberg, Emily Kadish, Steven Padnick Transcriptions: Rose Ginsberg Designers: Matt Obert, Abby Ringiewicz Illustrators: Emily Lubanko, Max Hames Photographers: Johanna Bobrow, Kate Donahue, David Dyte Writers: Alain Chan, Kevin Clark, Ben Cordes, Rachel Cromidas, Ian Danskin, Kate Donahue, David Dyte, Rose Jasper Fox, Meg Grady-Troia, Rose Ginsberg, Max Hames, Andy Izenson, Emily Kadish, Leslie Kwan, Emily Lubanko, Aida Manduley, Casey Middaugh, Steven Padnick, Jenny Williamson Chef: Meg Grady-Troia
Special thanks to Leslie Kwan, Adam Bradley, Tea Fougner 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-5
EDITOR’S LETTER Dear friends, Welcome again. I am so glad to see you. For each issue of #24MAG I give my contributors a theme, as a means of focusing their many splendid ideas. Our themes so far have been trust, limits, failure, audience, and data. I was asked recently how I chose those themes, and I told the following story. Imagine sitting down across from someone you want to collaborate with. Maybe you are in the back room of an East Village bar over dark beers, or tucked in the corner of a crowded coffee shop, or in an office, or sharing a computer screen from different corners of the world. You have an idea, and you want to work together to make it real. What questions would you ask one another? What questions would you ask yourself? I would ask myself, “Do I trust this person?” I would ask, “What limits should we set upon this project?” And, “What if we fail?” “Who is our audience?” “What data do we need to collect to set ourselves up for success?” This is how I choose our themes: they lead from the questions generated by passionate collaborative relationships. I am happy to be surrounded by passionate people right now. It is 4:31 p.m. on Friday afternoon. In just under 18 hours, we will have a new magazine. I remain grateful to you, readers and contributors. Thank you for coming, thank you for reading, and thank you for sticking with us, all through the night. Best,
01 03 06 Data Monster Max Hames
Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Letter Sara Eileen Hames
Cum Grano Salis Meg Grady-Troia
30 34 38 Minority Matters Aida Manduley
Reading Images Kate Donahue
Opera Data, Opera Information
Kevin C. & Rose G.
53 54 56 Interview: Luke Miratrix Ben Cordes
Interview: cortex Ian Danskin
Art vs. Marketing Emily Lubanko
08 14 18 20 22 24 The Outlier Steven Padnick
Color David D., Sara H. & Abby R.
Sleep Stats Rose Fox
Poems + Process Andy Izenson & Jenny Williamson
Data-driven Drawing Ben Cordes & David Dyte
Everybody Has a Gender Alain Chan & Andy Izenson
40 44 46 47 48 52 The Death + Life of Theater Ian D., Emily K. & Rose G.
Responding to Trauma with Data Casey Middaugh
Taking the Safety Off Ian Danskin
Plays Rose Ginsberg
Public Data David Dyte
Science, Statistics, and the Media Ben Cordes & Ian Danskin
58 60 62 68 72 74 The Physical Phases of Stress Kevin Clark
Photos Johanna Bobrow
Transmedia Chain Contributors
Contributor Interviews Rachel Cromidas
Poetic Data Points Jenny Williamson
Coagulate Emily Lubanko
Cum Grano Salis Meg Grady-Troia Once upon a time, I spent my vacations standing in the cool, damp wine cellars of Napa Valley while my parents sipped wine. I was underage back then, and not drinking the wines themselves. Instead, I watched the ritual of it: the compressed cork eased out of a bottle’s neck, the color-saturated liquid poured into a graceful stemmed glass, the swirling, the sniffing, the slurping, the sighing. To me, wine was just a peskily expensive thing that got in between me and beautiful grapes with velvety skins and translucent flesh, but I was addicted to the pomposity and lunacy of wine-speak: brix, must, disgorgement, flocculation, flor, madeirization. The wine-drinkers might have been speaking in a foreign language for all I could understand, and it sometimes felt like a conspiratorial conceit to flummox me for not being old enough, wise enough, or tasteful enough to drink whatever that middle step between fresh fruit and vinegar was.
Early in my drinking days, I told a prominent wine importer that I didn’t know how to talk about wine, and thus couldn’t enjoy it. All I knew was the social ritual of wine. He laughed at me as he poured us each a taste of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He dramatically assessed his wine with all the slurps and swirls and flourishes he could, ensuring my rapt attention. Then, making eye contact with me, he said, “This wine tastes like having my toes tickled with a feather by a French prostitute.” He kept looking at me until I laughed, and then he said, “See? You enjoyed your wine and mine.”
Grapes were sexy fruit; even when I was too young to understand that experientially, I knew that grapes were ephemeral, filled with the fleeting musk of mingled breath and bodies. I used to sneak fistfuls of the wine grapes as we toured those Napa wineries, marveling about how there was nothing at all austere about a grape. It was all curve and curiosity.
There’s no reason that that empirical data should stop at wine. No one looks at me funny when I tell them that I love an auslese Riesling from the Mosel because it uncurls in my mouth like a predatory jungle cat hungrily stalking its prey, because we have that ritual with wine. Most people, however, would look at me askance—and possibly move away!—if I said that about looking at a spreadsheet of figures. But I want the luxury of adjectives and empiricism everywhere, and I readily admit to reading the reviews of recipes I’ll never cook, of movies I’ll never see, and of books I’ll never read because I love that visceral moment of understanding someone else’s experience.
Now that I drink wine with passion and excitement, I’m not confused by the magic words, and I understand that wine captures transformative processes in glass that shouldn’t be possible, like lightning and laughter. Wine-making is a bricolage of touch, earth, sunshine, rain, fruit, and life; wine-drinking can be wonderment at those amazing things. Wine lovers take a sideways approach to their experiences with wine, talking about richness and brightness instead of about the dissolution of solids in water or about the pH balance of the wine. They stare into the mirrors of their wine glasses and describe where and how their synapses loosen.
I tell that story often when I serve wine to friends, because I want to loosen their tongues. I want to feel everything they experience and I want to comfort the memory of my younger self, standing in a wine cellar waiting to leave or understand wine, whichever came first.
Here, you’ll find “tasting notes” for some of the magazine’s content: my chance to play with description and give you a window into the experience of making #24MAG. I hope that this qualitative data helps you interpret and internalize some of the material differently, and that I can help you find some ritual to reading as fulfilling to you as wine is to me. Please use these tasting notes to add dimension, depth, and deliciousness to your reading experience.
Tasting Notes The Outlier – Steven Padnick – Page 08
You know that bloom that forms over chocolate? That soft, dusty, layer of frost that turns your chocolate from dark, warm brown to a cold and nervous shade of beige? This story feels like that: dried lichen, geodes that never see the light, and ornate hinges on tiny boxes.
Sleep Stats – Rose Fox – Page 18
When you keep blowing on the stem of a dandelion after all the seeds are gone, and you’re suddenly out of air just as the wind picks up the last little puff, there’s this moment of dry humor that you could be without this thing that surrounds you. This report is made of that kind of breathless, final suspense experienced when you crack the spine of a brand new hardcover book.
Data-driven Drawing – Ben Cordes & David Dyte – Page 22
Reading Craig Robinson’s words and the way he visualizes statistics smells like hot copper pennies and the rubber that vaporizes off your tires when you careen down a hill on your bike without hitting the brakes, like the effort you never notice you expended, those moments of explosive laughter and swimming against the tides.
Opera Data, Opera Information – Kevin Clark & Rose Ginsberg – Page 38
If you could watch the oils disperse when you stick your thumbnail into the skin of an orange, or capture the ripples that traverse a pond after you’ve skipped a stone, you’d have something like the experience of reading this essay. The individual words feel quotidian, but somehow they expand in my brain, making those sounds like the big, fat raindrops that only fall in the first few warm days of the year.
Five Percent of Americans Never Marry – Jenny Williamson – Page 72
If you’ve ever crushed fresh flowers in your hand so that they smush into a silky mass of sweetly-scented pulp, then you’ve experienced something like this poem. It is not the destructive force of the act that matters, but the strangely visceral moment when the petals lose their distinction and become flesh.
The Outlier Steven Padnick “What happened this time?” Mary asks me as she pours the coffee. It has a familiar aroma, rich and spicy. I think Mary has broken out her good stash. I remember that from last time.
I do the math in my head. “A week?”
She grabs a couple of bagels and sits down across from me. “I don’t know,” I say. “One day everything was great, the next we couldn’t stand each other. We fought constantly. About nothing. No, not fought. Fighting would have been better. We were carefully not fighting, you know? But about everything. He’d want to go out. I’d want to stay in. If I wanted to go to the Met, he wanted to go shopping in the Village. I hated all of his friends. He hated all of mine. I woke up one morning and it was like living with a stranger.”
Mary is stirring too much sugar into her cup. She pauses. “Living with?” “Yeah, we were in love. We moved in together.” “Well, there’s your problem,” Mary says, like she’s my mechanic and not my older sister. “You were only dating for like three weeks.” “We were together for two months!” “Two months, fine.” She takes a sip. “You always do this—” “How is this my fault?” “You always do this, Jon. You meet a guy, and he’s the bee’s knees, so you rush the relationship and it all falls apart.” “It does not,” I say through a mouthful of sesame seeds. “Oh no? This new one, Noah, he was an artist of some kind, right?” “He did installations...” “Right, and you met him at a gallery show? How long before you mentioned your studio in SoHo? How long until his shit was in your apartment?” 8 #24MAG
“God, it’s the same thing you did with Pablo. And Tosh. And... what’s his name? The one with the paper?” “Right.” “He was an origami sculptor.” “I don’t care. Jon. Bro. Baby bro, you’ve got to stop doing this to yourself. You’re better than this. You’re such a good lawyer. And such a good brother. And such a good friend. So many people love you. It hurts to see you hurt yourself this way.” “What am I supposed to do?” I realize I’ve forgotten my coffee and take a big gulp. “I don’t know, how about the next time you find a dude you like, you take your time with him rather than warping your life around his before your MetroCard runs out? Rushing into things is way romantic but it never ever works.” “It sometimes works,” I mutter. “Oh no,” Mary says. “Don’t bring him up again.” “I’m just saying it worked with Tommy.” “Tommy was five years ago, Jon. Five. Bush was president.” “I know, I know. I’m just saying, is all. I’m just saying, that Tommy and I fell in love when we met, and we moved in a week later, and that was the happiest six months of my life. If his dad hadn’t gotten sick—” Mary tries to wave me off. “I know, I know.” “If he didn’t have to move back to Iceland, if I could have moved with him, maybe we’d be married by now.” “I get it, bro, I do.” Mary is trying to be comforting, but she’s far too annoyed with
me to try hard. “But you’ve been trying to recreate what you had with Tommy ever since.”
year he wished me a happy birthday on Facebook. I don’t remember the last time I heard his voice.
“I’m not. I’m really not. I saw Gatsby. I know how that ends. I’m just pointing out that it worked.”
But it sounds the same. It sounds exactly the same. The same tooperfect pronunciation that only a non-native speaker has. The same baritone resonance that made him such a great singer. I can see him onstage at the Bowery Poetry Club, wearing a torn Bush/Cheney ’04 t-shirt and screaming about the Stonewall Riots. I wonder whether he still dyes the tips of his hair blue.
“Once.” “It only has to work once.” ——— Noah left while I was at work one day. I don’t know how he did it, but everything was normal when I left and when I got back all of his stuff was gone. His drawers were empty. His dishes were carefully removed from the cupboard. His toothbrush was missing from the sink. Even that hideous afghan he’d insisted on draping over my leather sofa had disappeared. He hadn’t left a note. I should replace his chairs. I should take my sweaters out of storage and fill his drawers with them. I should do so many things, but I can’t. The absence is all I have left of Noah. Coming home to my apartment is hard. As I walk in the door, the empty spaces hit me like a truck. My breath is short and my eyes are tearing up. But then I notice that tonight, something is different. On the counter, next to my graduation photo, a little black box is blinking a little red light. My answering machine. I forgot I had an answering machine. It takes me a second to remember which button is which, but it comes back to me. I hit play. “An answering machine? Who still has an answering machine?” It’s Tommy. We kept in touch after he moved back to Iceland. Phone calls, e-mails, a care package. At first we talked every day, but our contact became less and less frequent. I think last
“I tried to call your mobile, but I think you changed your number? Anyway, I still have your landline in my phone and... and hi. Hello. Hello, Jonathan. It’s me. Thomas. How are you? I am well. I. I am back. In America. In New York. I thought you should know that. Yes.” He’s nervous. He’s adorable when he’s nervous. When he’s onstage, he’s an assault of attitude and charisma. But offstage, in front of an obviously admiring fan, he starts to blush and trip on his words, and if he’s really anxious he giggles, and hates himself for it. “And I thought... you would like... I would like... yes. I would like to get dinner with you. Yes. Talk. Catch up. If that’s okay. With you. Yes. I would very much like to see you again, Jonathan. It has been too long.” I scribble down his new phone number as he recites it. Twice, because he knows I can never catch a number the first time. Then I stare at the piece of paper in front of me. My cell is against my ear and ringing before I realize I’ve dialed the number. “Hello? Who is this?” Tommy says, with a hint of hope. “It’s me. Jon,” I say, and try not to cry. “I would very much like to see you too.”
——— “Tommy?” Mary says loud enough that the other diners put down their burgers to look over. “You’re not...?” “No,” I assure him. “No, no. Tommy and I were over years ago. Years. We’re just going to get drinks. And talk. About life. And shit.” Mary sighs with relief. “Good. Good. Because it’s been years.” “Years! I said that.” “And if you think you’re going to just get back together with him—” “I don’t. I really don’t. I just... want to know.” She rolls her eyes. “Know what?” “Well, I’ve been thinking about what you said. About how rushing into a relationship never works, but it did with Tommy. I think I’d like to know why.” “Tommy was a fluke,” Mary says with a dismissive wave of her hand. “An outlier.” “What if he wasn’t? What if there’s something different about him, or I did something different I didn’t realize? Maybe there’s a reason it worked with Tommy but with nobody else.” “Maybe you just got lucky.” “Maybe,” I admit, “but if there is a reason, isn’t that good? Wouldn’t that help any relationship I have going forward?” Mary bites her lip. She hates to agree with me. I think she gets that from Dad. “Maybe. Okay, sure, yeah. But that’d better be what this is, bro. This better be a fact-finding mission and that’s all. Because if you’re trying to get back together with him—” “I’m not.” “If you think you can just pick up where you left off—” “I don’t.” #24MAG 9
“Then you’re just setting yourself up for heartbreak again. And I don’t want to see you get hurt.” “Don’t worry,” I assure her. “I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself.” ——— Tommy is late. Tommy is always late so it’s not a surprise. It should annoy me more, but time management just isn’t a skill Tommy ever needed to acquire. He tries. He really does. He keeps a meticulous Google calendar. I’ve seen it. Events jam right up next to each other and he always forgets travel takes time. It comes from a good place, a desire to be there for all of his friends, to get the most out of life. It’s one of his most endearing qualities, one of the reasons I love him so much. Loved him. Loved him so much. Still, I find myself alone at Craftbar for half an hour. A Scotch on the rocks sits half-empty in front of me. I want to drink it but I don’t want to be blind drunk when Tommy shows up. If he shows up. No, he always shows up. He’s just late. He’s just late. And then there he is. My first thought is that it’s an older version of him who has traveled here from the future, but no, that’s just what five years does to a person. The years have been good to him, though. The baby fat has left his face, revealing gorgeous
cheekbones, and he has a grownup haircut now that shows off his jet-black hair without a hint of blue. Meanwhile, he’s put some meat on his frame. His shoulders are broader, his chest wider, his old spaghetti arms replaced by steel cables. He’s wearing a dark blue button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to show off his forearms, still covered in obscene tattoos. But his eyes are the same, the same piercing deep blue eyes that stared at me from the stage. My God, it’s the adult version of Tommy.
question, because I was asking what cologne he was wearing, and Tommy doesn’t wear cologne. That’s just what he smells like.
He sees me at the bar and smiles and it all comes rushing back. That first night at the Bowery, pushing him bodily into the men’s room. Him showing up on my doorstop with just a duffle bag of clothes. Rowing in Central Park, when he pulled out a ukulele and serenaded me with a song he wrote just for me. Introducing him to Mary and the two of them bonding over Tarantino films, of all things. Dropping him off at the airport, kissing and crying in front of security. Watching him go through the metal detector and then walk off to his gate, with the Samsonite luggage I got him for Christmas.
Somehow in our uncomfortable talking we’ve managed to sit down at our table. I’m in a fugue state and that’s dangerous. I try to focus. Bring it back to something real.
“Jonathan,” he says as he wraps his new powerful arms around me. “How are you?” He smells like cedar and hyacinth. I remember the morning, snuggling together in sheets for the first time, asking what scent that was. He was confused by the
“I’m good,” I lie. “I’m good. Work’s good. Busy. Important clients. You know, the usual.” “I know,” he says. “Mary says hi,” I add, because I don’t know what else to say. “Oh good. I liked Mary. She is a good person.” “I’ll tell her you said that.” “Please do.”
“How’s your father?” I ask, but I know the answer. Tommy wouldn’t be back in America if there were any other answer. “Papa died last year. The cancer, it was too much.” Tommy taps his hand on the counter. It’s the way he deals with emotions he doesn’t want to express. Usually it’s a sign to press on. “But you got to be there with him in the end, yes?” “Yes. Yes, that was very good. I am very glad I could do that.” He smiles, a twinkle in his eye at the memory. We talk for a while. Beside getting a job in marketing while he taking care of his father, Tommy spent the last five years arguing with his
brother, Sven. When their father died, Tommy and Sven got into a complicated legal battle over the inheritance. But now that’s done and Tommy can move on with his life, whatever that turns out to be. “Have you, have you had anyone to help you through this?” I ask, too drunk and too curious to care if I’m being rude. “A couple, yes,” Tommy says with some sheepishness. “But nothing good. And you, Jonathan? Is there a man in your life?” “Not at the moment,” I say. “That is hard to believe.” Tommy smiles. “Handsome man like you.” “Oh, I’ve had a, a couple, like you, but it never works.” Well, here goes, I think. “We worked, didn’t we?” Tommy considers seriously, then nods. “Yes, I would say we worked.”
“Oh, cheer up, Jonathan,” Tommy says and holds my hand. “I am sure you will find someone.” “But will someone?”
“That is for you to decide,” Tommy says. I can’t tell whether the food is good, or the drinks are bad. I don’t really follow what’s going on. I just know that I’m happy to be with Tommy again, and I don’t want tonight to end so soon. After I pay the check, I ask Tommy if he wants to see the old apartment. “It’s a short walk from here,” I tell him. “I think you’ll really like what I’ve done with the place.”
“Because.” The only reason we haven’t started poking each other is that we’re in our thirties. And in public. “Well, I’m happy,” I insist. “You’re desperate.” “This is romantic, Mary. Tommy’s the one who got away. It’s the classic story. Boy meets boy. Boy loses boy. Boy gets boy back.” “Your life isn’t a story.” “What?” “A story would end there,” she says. She slurps her coffee. “Your life, your life is going to continue.”
Seven more months. That’s what I get. Seven more months.
“Oh, come on!” Mary is so disgusted she can’t even eat her waffles.
Tommy shrugs. “We were young. We were in love.”
“What’s wrong? Tommy!”
“But, and no offense, I’d been in love before. And since. And it always feels like this is the one. But it never works. What’s different about you?”
“I liked Tommy,” she corrects me. “Five years ago. I don’t know who this new guy is who’s moving in with you.”
“I do,” I say, slumping into my hand. “They don’t seem all that different from you.”
“Do you have any idea why?”
“I don’t know,” Tommy says and starts giggling. “I do not know these other men.”
“The one you still don’t know why it worked with,” she mutters over her coffee cup.
At first it’s great. Joyously, miraculously great. On the one hand, Tommy slots right back into my life, perfectly filling the hole he left. I hadn’t realize how much I missed just talking to him. Everything he does is beautiful. Everything he says is brilliant and marvelous. He has such a wonderfully warm laugh. I’m happy just to be in the same room as him. Of course, we also can’t keep our hands off each other, and we spend many a weekend staying in bed.
“Does that matter?”
On the other hand, this is
“Be happy for me. It’s Tommy. The fluke. The outlier. The one that worked.”
clearly a new Tommy, and I want to appreciate him for the man he’s become, not pretend he’s exactly the man who left. This new Tommy is more mature, more put together. The death of his father gave him perspective on his life and focus on his goals. He still wants to be a rock star and change the world with his music, but now he’s willing to put in the hard work to make his dream a reality. If anything, I love this Tommy more than the one before. But he’s still constantly late. He can never manage his time or prioritize his work and his loved ones. He can’t clean up after himself. He leaves his dirty dishes in the sink. He ignores my friends and wants to go home early from my work parties, but needs to stay out late to hang out with his band. Has he always had these flaws? Or are they new bad habits picked up in Iceland? After he makes me miss half of my firm’s Christmas party, I decide it’s time to confront him about his problem. “We need to talk,” I say, cursing myself for the cliché. “Need is Jonathan.”
“I know,” I say, leading him to the couch. To lighten the mood I unscrew a bottle of merlot and pour two glasses. “It’s not a big deal. It really isn’t. It’s not. It’s just that we need to talk about time management.” Tommy smiles, at ease. “Yes, yes, I know, I am working on it.” I wince. “The thing is, you always say that. You always say you’re working on it. But you’re getting worse.” “It’s not that bad.” “But it is,” I say. “It’s important to me. Putting in time at the office party is important for my career.” “I know this,” Tommy says, confused why I’m so upset. 12 #24MAG
“But we were two hours late because I was waiting for you.”
“Yeah, but not on time.” Oh my God, Jon, shut up shut up shut up.
“I am sorry. I said that I am sorry.”
“So you don’t trust me? You think my band is a joke and you don’t trust me?”
I wince again. “I know you said that, but I don’t think you understand. It might literally cost me a partnership not to schmooze at the party.” “I said I am sorry. What more do you want?”
“I didn’t say that! I never said that.” “But that’s how you feel.”
“I want change, Tommy. I need you to change.”
I try to answer but my mouth freezes. After not being able to shut up, now I can’t talk. The silence drags on. And on. And on.
“Practice ran late. I could not abandon the band.”
“You do not have to speak,” Tommy finally says. “It is OK.”
“Not for me? Not even for me?”
“No, it’s not OK. I want to build my life around you.”
Tommy puts down his glass and refuses to look at me. “So your career is more important than mine?” “No,” I say. “Not in total. Just this party was more important than another practice session.” “Not to me,” Tommy says. “Well, you’re wrong.” It’s a mistake, I know it as soon as I say it, but it’s out of my mouth before I can shut up. “Are you saying I don’t know what’s important?” “Yes!” I shout. “No. In this case, yes.” Why am I saying these things? Who’s saying these things? Who am I? Tommy stands up and walks to the window. I try desperately to change the subject. “Why are we even talking about this? This isn’t about your career. Or my career. I just want you to be on time for things.” “Why do you care?” he asks without turning around. “You’re my boyfriend, not my keeper.” “And you’re my boyfriend, not my charge. It’s just, how are we supposed to build a life together if I can’t rely on you?” Tommy sputters in anger. “Rely on me? You can rely on me for anything.”
“But you cannot rely on me.” I take his hands. “But I could. We could work on this. You could change.” Tommy shakes his head. “No I cannot. This is who I am.” My throat is closing up. A future I had built in my head is being stripped from me. I try to talk but nothing comes out. “I am not happy,” Tommy says. “Now I understand why. This is good.” “No, it’s not good,” I insist. “I am not happy, and I think you’ll find you’re not happy either.” He’s right. I can feel that he’s right. “But we could be,” I say. “We could be happy.” “Yes, but not with each other.” I start shaking my head, tears falling freely from my eyes. “No, you were the one. I don’t accept this. You were the one that worked.” Tommy wraps his arms around me and holds me close. I’m sobbing into his shoulder. I breathe deep, knowing this is the last time I will ever get to smell his amazing scent. “It is good,” he whispers. “This is good. Now you know.”
202 94 93
17 76 60 02 167 118 43
30 52 100 12 138 138 89
46 35 74 10 132 175 63
54 12 100 01
30 142 205 178 196 51
David Dyte, Sara Eileen Hames, & Abby Ringiewicz
34 07 100 01
78 33 0 0
0 168 112
222 192 36 238 46 131
0 94 13 0
244 177 37 239 56 47
15 20 100 0
97 0 78 0 37 185 175
72 01 38 0
0 67 97 0
0 93 90 0 #24MAG 15
98 83 132 13 77 150 0 124 129 165 217 205 254 224 0
02 07 100 0
35 0 23 0
84 44 0 0
100 80 08 01
71 75 23 06
154 70 140
45 86 11 01
0 180 223 195 212 46 126 64 28 217 161 201
28 02 100 0
129 126 193
87 0 09 0 0 91 146
51 28 12 0
100 67 19 03
33 76 100 35
12 42 0 0
Sleep Stats Rose Fox
“Sleep, those little slices of death—how I loathe them.” — Edgar Allan Poe As I write this, I’m 7 hours and 20 minutes in debt. That’s a problem, because I’ve already slept 7 hours and 58 minutes today, and doing #24MAG isn’t generally conducive to getting a lot of sleep. SleepBot will just have to understand. Last summer, I was chronically sleep-deprived to the point where it was affecting my judgment and behavior; it was like I was drunk all the time. I realized that I didn’t have a clear picture of my sleeping habits because all my thoughts around sleep involved ways to postpone or avoid it. I frequently talked about wanting to sleep more efficiently, to cram 8 hours’ worth of rest into 4 hours. I have delayed sleep-phase syndrome (DSPS), which in my case means I’m permanently stuck in a time zone 3 hours off from the one I live in; I’ve always struggled to sleep enough and at the right times. But even by my standards things were pretty bad. I’m a big fan of technological solutions to problems. To support my bedtime of 2 a.m., I used the wonderful Gentle Alarm phone app to create a whole bunch of go-to-sleep alarms that played soothing music and nature sounds starting around midnight. I used Profile Scheduler+ to create a nointernet profile and told my phone to switch to it at 1 a.m. And I got in the habit of tapping the SleepBot icon on my phone before turning out the light, and tapping it again whenever I woke up.
SleepBot doesn’t lie. Between July 18th and September 1st, 2012, my most frequent bedtime was around 4 a.m. Somehow there would always be one reason or another to stay awake just that little bit longer. And I had to get up at 10 for work, so the sleep debt1 piled up. On average I slept 6.2 hours at a time, and even with occasional naps (or dozing until 11 and making myself late for work), I was only managing an average of 7.44 hours of sleep a day. In those 45 days, I slept a total of 335 hours, accumulating over 24 hours of sleep debt. In January, I started taking Zoloft to treat depression and anxiety. I had heard that it could make me drowsy, so I took it around midnight. And then... I went to bed. Between 1 and 2. And went right to sleep. Every night. This was great. Actually, it was revelatory. I hadn’t realized just how anxious I had been about going to bed until I wasn’t anymore. I had no idea that it was possible for me to think “I should go to bed” and then go to bed, without fighting the “should” at all. I deliberately recorded memories of how it felt to lie down, turn out the light, and drift off to sleep feeling nothing but calm. And then 3 hours later I’d wake up. My rule was that if I woke up enough to think “Should I tell SleepBot I’m awake?” the answer was yes, so I’d tap it off and back on before falling asleep again. And then 3 hours later I’d wake up...
To compensate for the disrupted sleep, I slept longer and later, sometimes racking up 9 or 10 hours of sleep in a day (which I could only get away with because I was going to bed earlier). Between January 15th and March 1st, 2013, my average daily sleep total was 8.6 hours. My most frequent bedtime was 2 a.m. I slept 387.35 hours total over those 45 days, and I actually had 28.7 hours of negative sleep debt, but I was only sleeping an average of 3.79 hours at a go. I racked up 102 sleep records, compared to 54 in the “control” period from the summer. Between broken sleep and too much sleep, I was just as groggy and grouchy as I had been when I was totally underslept. In March, I shifted to taking Zoloft a couple of hours after waking up. My sleep habits soon settled into something between my unmedicated default and my Zoloft-at-midnight pattern. From March 27th to today, May 11th, I’ve accumulated only about 2 hours of sleep debt (not counting my #24MAG all-nighter). My average sleep per record is still only 4.31 hours, but that’s improving (if I narrow the window to the past 15 days, it goes up to 4.56 hours); I accumulated 83 records in 45 days. My average daily sleep is 7.95 hours. My most frequent bedtime is 3 a.m.
I’m still trying to get to bed closer to 2 than 3. I’m still looking for technological solutions, like installing LeechBlock in my browser to shut down email, chat, and Twitter from 1:30 to 11 a.m. (I was very amused to start my laptop up this morning before the #24MAG editorial meeting and have it tell me that it was too early for me to check my email. I don’t usually get scolded from that direction.) I’m also working on recapturing that feeling of serene bedtime calm without the meds. Looking at the numbers, it’s clear that that made a much bigger difference than any of my alarms. Examining this data is very useful, and I should do it more often. I didn’t realize my average sleep duration was still so short until I checked the numbers today; I think that’s because I tend to sleep 7 hours and then doze another hour, and those average out to look not very good. But I do that because I go to bed late, wake up groggy, and choose sleeping a bit more over being on time for work, so getting to bed on time should fix that. Of course, #24MAG will disrupt all my careful data-gathering; I managed a half-hour nap earlier, and I’ll be surprised if I get more than another 2 or 3 hours between now and 10 a.m. On the bright side, getting to bed on time or early Saturday night should be no problem at all.
1. Sleep debt refers to a cumulative lack of sleep. Sleep 7 hours instead of 8 and you’re 1 hour in debt. Do it again and you’re 2 hours in debt. SleepBot tracks sleep debt over the course of an entire week. It also tracks “negative” sleep debt, because sleeping too much can be a sign of a medical problem or otherwise indicate that something is awry.
Initializing. Running diagnostics. Diagnostics complete. Full sensor array online. Data received. Data received. Data received. Processing. To best execute this task, I should cut out my eyes, install high DPI video recorders with remote uplink to seamlessly confirm my plausibility against a database; observation data can create aggregated constellation of real human behavior. (Information that should have come preloaded, but I’ve known since childhood the ways in which I am defective.) Sound bites of “what?” and “I don’t understand,” signal— course corrections needed, performance slipping, try harder, play it off. I should replace my musculature with solid-state hardware, change out the spasticity in my limbs for the stillness of palladium, upgrade this unownable organic wetware to a drive capable of retaining, synthesizing, replicating the effortless veracity of the creatures who learned in their real bones and gray matter how to simply be.
PROCESS I understand my creative process like playing Super Mario Bros. It’s a process of hopping my way through a weird landscape, collecting coins that I carry with me until I’ve collected enough to complete my task. Sometimes the coins are lying on the ground, sometimes I have to climb mountains to find them, and sometimes I have to use my head to bash them out of brick walls. Each coin is an idea that constitutes a piece of a poem—generally a third or a quarter of a full piece. When I’ve collected the right number of pieces, the way in which they fit together suddenly becomes apparent, and boing, there’s a poem. For “input,” one of the pieces was obviously the idea of data. When I kicked the idea of data around for a little while—data collection, data synthesis, emotional and interpersonal data—it slotted neatly into two other ideas I’d been carrying. The first was “cyborgs.” Transhumanism and the overlap of technology with body modification have fascinated me recently as a fantasy for reimagining the parts of living as a human—that is, a ghost driving a sack of meat—that bother me. The second is the impostor syndrome that plagues me and everyone I know: the paralyzing certainty that everybody except you knows exactly what they’re doing and if you’re not really, really careful, they’re going to find out about you. My interpersonal data-gathering involves a lot of observing the reactions of the people I interact with to make sure that my carefully constructed human disguise is intact, and that I’m acting normal enough not to trip anyone’s radar and endanger myself. I suppose that candidly explaining this process in a magazine available to anyone might have blown my cover. Whoops.
Ninety-Six Percent of All Marine Life Died During the Permian Extinction JENNY WILLIAMSON It was the Conodonts that went first. Long soft sea-ribbons, unlikely predators with their lateral eyes and unexpected teeth. Then the Orthida, already ancient, stoic and single-valved, spinning their war stories of the Pre-Cambrian. No one expected the Bryozoa to hold on as long as they did. Crowned in showy tentacles, they came in a cacophony of shapes, dancing invertebrate showponies doomed as dinner. Long before our oldest ancestors mud-puppied their way onto the beaches with the sea in their wombs, the ocean swallowed its stillbirths and kept its secrets.
PROCESS I always have a little difficulty talking about my process in terms of the creative choices I make, because they don’t feel like choices. It’s more like I have this song stuck in my head, and it’s also a poem, and I can hear the rhythm of it. I start to think in poetry; when it’s working really well, writing a poem is really about pulling the pieces out of the air and putting them on the page and feeling my way toward a unified, coherent whole. For example, the line at the end of the third stanza in this piece was originally different, something more conventional. My editor suggested I get rid of the line entirely, but the stanza felt unresolved without something that fit the same rhythmic profile and expressed a similar note of finality. For me, finding a better line for that stanza wasn’t about choosing so much as listening to the poem and trying to hear where it wanted to go.
DATA-driven Drawing DAVID DYTE & BEN CORDES
Craig Robinson is “a bearded, myopic Englishman who (for the time being, at least) lives in Mexico City,” according to his baseball infographic website, Flip Flop Fly Ball. Robinson was not a fan of baseball growing up; his love of the game can be traced to a business trip to New York City, where he convinced his coworkers to visit Yankee Stadium for a game. Upon returning to Europe, Robinson began staying up late watching games streamed over the Internet. He started drawing infographics to help himself remember the extensive history of American baseball: the teams, their location, their former locations, the most well-known players, and so on. As his collection of infographics expanded, he set up a website to hold them all. In 2011, he published a number of them in Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure. Along with more factual collections of data, Robinson also draws purely whimsical graphics that explore such topics as which town in the continental United States is farthest from a Major League Baseball (MLB) ballpark, which MLB team caps Justin Bieber has worn in his music videos, and high-scoring Scrabble words that can be made out of MLB team logos. However, Robinson’s true talent is an ability to display the vast swaths of data produced by a baseball game in a format that is both entertaining and enlightening. #24MAG’s sports desk caught up with Robinson on his way to Oaxaca to watch the Mexican League AllStar Game.
do think if I gave it a chance now, I might be able to get into it.
David Dyte: What is it about baseball specifically that connects with you?
CR: Mostly the time-consuming thing is research. I don’t know how to do any fancy coding, so if I need a whole load of data, I end up with lots of paper with the numbers scrawled on them. I’d say a day is average. Sometimes a lot more, sometimes less.
Craig Robinson: I think the pace, the aesthetics, and that it allows the brain time to think are the main things. I grew up following soccer and that is just 45 minutes of action, a short break, another 45 minutes, and then you are done. When I watch soccer now, it feels like such a short game. I like going to a ballpark, sitting down, and knowing I’m gonna be there for three hours.
DD: How long does it take to complete an average infographic?
DD: What’s been your popular infographic?
DD: Are there any other sports you’ve been tempted to tackle? Cricket, perhaps?
CR: I think the Bradenia map is the one that most people commented on. It was a pretty simple idea based on Dallas Braden’s mound being an autonomous region of Oakland Colosseum, a place where A-Rod would not be allowed to visit.
CR: I was terrible at playing cricket at school, so I dismissed it, but I
DD: I see you’ve charted Wins Above Replacement, a very
modern metric. Are you a big follower of sabermetrics1, or does it merely serve your artistic needs? CR: My whole time as a fan has been with these things being there as a part of the game, so sabermetrics seems normal to me. DD: Is there any baseball data you’re interested in but haven’t yet come up with a visual concept to illustrate? CR: Not really. Sometimes there are things that come up that just happen visually in my head, but don’t really make any sense when it comes to making information clearer. For example, I’d thought about the defensive players all being connected somehow, as triangles. It doesn’t really help anyone understand anything about the game, but it’s simply something I kind of see in my head.
1. Sabermetrics, named for the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), is a catch-all term for the analysis of data collected during baseball games and the use of that analysis to answer objective questions about baseball and the people who play it.
Check out Craig’s infographics!
EVERYBODY HAS A GENDER ALAIN CHAN & ANDY IZENSON
The gender identities and bodies of gender-variant people are often treated as public property by gender-conforming people. “Are you a boy or a girl?” is an all-toofamiliar question, and many trans* people have well-rehearsed answers to the intrusive interrogation of passers-by who demand that their confusion and inability to categorize the person in front of them be assuaged.
of transfeminine presence. It is certainly valuable to examine the (often previously unexamined) gendered experiences of the staff of the magazine, but it is crucial not to forget that in doing so, we are creating yet another conversation about gender identity that does not significantly include the voices of trans* women.
Much like the linguistic truism “Everybody has an accent,” everybody has a gender identity— but people who have never been confronted with their own identity often discount its existence.
Leslie: I identify as female. I present as female.
The contributors of #24MAG are a diverse group in many ways, including along the axis of gender. In this interview series, members of the staff, as well as readers contributing via Twitter, answer a sampling of the questions about gender that are frequently posed unsolicited to visibly gender variant people. It should be thoughtfully noted that the population polled is, like many queer spaces, devoid
Ben: Cis male would be sort of the most—I don’t know. That is the term that I would use for it.
Describe your gender identity.
Rose F.: Broadly, I use the term genderqueer. From day to day, it varies.
Rachel: When someone asks me a question like that, I don’t always know what type of answer someone wants, because the most simple answer is that I identify as female, but I also sometimes identify as butch-of-center. But I don’t know if
I could intelligently articulate what I mean by that. Emily L.: I identify as “she,” “her,” female, because if I don’t feel strongly enough to change pronouns publicly I feel like it must not be as big an issue for me as it is for people who do what they need to do. I never feel quite comfortable in any of the alternate pronouns or descriptors for women, like miss or ma’am or anything like that; it makes me feel sick. But I haven’t really found a better alternative. I’m always hesitant, because I feel physically female enough but so culturally outside of it, and because they’re cultural differences anyway. I can’t really describe it. I identify as female because I feel biologically content enough. I don’t feel the need for surgery or hormones, and I have enough friends that have gone through that pain that I don’t feel prepared to take on that pain as my own. It feels like appropriation; it feels wrong. Jenny: Probably cisgender, cissexual. I think that’s probably the best way to describe it that
people understand. It doesn’t feel like a term I chose. It feels like a term that exists that I’m supposed to identify with. Describe your gender presentation. Johanna: There are parts of it that are reasonably femme, but I feel reasonably integrated in the parts that are not. I still think I present as femme by body type and hair and makeup choices. Rose F.: There are days when I feel dapper, there are days when I feel butch, there are days when I feel femme. There are days when, whatever, I’m wearing a bathrobe. Also, how I interpret my presentation can vary even if I’m wearing the same thing I wore yesterday. Ben: I think I present as a fairly typical male. Rachel: Mostly cisgender, sometimes butch-of-center.
Jenny: I think I present myself genderwise in the way that’s expected of me by a heteronormative society. Feminine, and I’m female. Emily L.: I tend to present as standard female binary with hairy legs, who might’ve accidentally walked through a biker bar and might be flagging sometimes. Has your gender ever changed? If so, how did you notice? What did you do? If not, how would you notice? What would you do? Leslie: It hasn’t changed. I think I would notice because I would notice a conflict. I would try to seek out what that conflict was, and whether it was a discordance between my gender identity and my presentation,
or something more ambiguous that was bothering me psychosocially or emotionally or otherwise. I would like to think that I would notice that introspectively and be able to recognize and acknowledge it. Casey: I don’t even have a framework in which to figure out how to answer that question. Rose F.: It changes all the time. I wake up and go, “What do I want to wear today?” And then I think, “Why?” That’s how I know where I am that particular day. Certainly my understanding of what is possible about gender—that gender can change, that my own sense of my gender can change from day to day—has itself changed. That was a realization that I came to very slowly—kind of sideways. I would go “Hey, dressing in drag is fun,” and then “Hey, wearing these femme clothes feels like drag too,” and I’d start thinking about that. I built my own DIY gender vocabulary. Ian: I am fairly certain that my gender has wiggled some in my lifetime. Because it is very easy for me to be a cisgender white straight male, I’ve never had much cause to question my gender. I figure that one of the reasons people get upset about people with more complicated genders is that they don’t like acknowledging that gender as a concept is complicated, and their own gender is probably not as simple as they think. Ben: My gender has not changed. How would I notice if it had? That’s a really interesting question. I don’t know. Jenny: There was a time when I was very girly as a kid, and I wanted dresses, and pink things, and then
when I was a teenager I became more of a tomboy, and I only wore boys’ jeans and large flannel shirts. I wanted to identify as neuter, in a way—I didn’t want to identify as male, but I didn’t want to be feminine. I didn’t want people to notice my gender. I guess maybe it was a way of hiding. Emily L.: When my teachers started telling me I couldn’t do things because I was a girl, and called me angry and violent because I was doing the same things as the boys that were surrounding me, I stopped thinking of myself as a girl and started thinking of myself as other. I think if I hadn’t felt so cornered all the time, I would’ve felt more free to play around in that space. As embarrassing as this is, when I started watching drag queens and the way they played with femininity, I felt better about appropriating it myself. There’s something profoundly fucked that men have to be the one to tell me that it’s not fucked to be a woman. Can you describe a genderaffirming experience that you’ve had? What did it feel like? Casey: I was at a Taiwanese spa with my grandmother and my mother, and it was really neat, because it was all three of us and we all had black bathing suits, and the three of us are very clearly the same shape at different ages. I guess it was affirming in the way that I felt connected to the women in my family, but I wouldn’t have thought of it as a gender-affirming experience if you hadn’t asked me. Ian: In high school, the first time that a woman was vocally attracted to me. My best friend’s sister got this giant crush on me, and it was
the first time I felt like, “Okay, I can function as a man to straight women. It is possible.” Ben: The things that come to mind are negative reinforcement rather than positive. Playing team sports and being around people who are traditionally very macho is reinforcing of my identity in the sense that I do identify as male and I do play team sports with other men, but doesn’t feel affirming in a celebratory kind of way. Jenny: I think any time I go out to a bar and I get hit on by someone of the opposite sex, that’s genderaffirming. Any time I feel like someone sees me as a woman and I feel comfortable with that and I welcome that attention, it’s genderaffirming. But then again, there are a lot of situations where that’s really inappropriate and makes me feel uncomfortable too, so it depends on the situation. Emily L.: When I dated someone who didn’t care what pronouns I used, or the fact that I told him point blank that I wasn’t going to shave my legs because it made me feel uncomfortable. It made me feel like I wasn’t the only one who felt constrained by this all the time, and that there were people who would actually accept me, even if I didn’t have to change pronouns, but would accept this permutation of female. Can you describe a non-genderaffirming experience that you have had? What did it feel like? Johanna: I’m a biologist, I was working in a chemistry lab, and we were setting up and calibrating a very expensive, very persnickety piece of equipment, a gas chromatograph, and I was working with a coworker 26 #24MAG
who’s a guy, and I was insisting that we read the instructions to figure out why something wasn’t working, and he was like “You’re such a girl, you’re so rule-abiding,” and I just looked at him and said, “Fuck you.” Ian: I used to work at farmer’s markets and I was at my tent, in a tight shirt, pink pants, and a bowler hat, and I got mistaken for a girl by some guy who walked up behind me and said “ma’am,” and very obviously tried to pick me up. And I turned around and he realized I appeared to be a guy, and we had this awkward exchange where he said, “Don’t matter to me none, I’d fuck you too.” It’s the only time I’ve been treated the way I know a lot of women get treated every day. Have you ever talked about this stuff before? If so, in what context? If not, why do you think that is? Leslie: I probably have, but I can’t recall specifically. I think that is mostly because I inhabit normative worlds and I identify in a normative way and I present in a normative way. Casey: I’ve talked to gender-variant people about their gender, but I haven’t talked about mine, because I’m privileged as fuck. Rose F.: I talk about it all the time. With my friends, my partners. I have talked about it with my family, a little; sometimes I actually bring it up and sometimes I just sort of edge around it. But it keeps changing, and it keeps being important to me, and it keeps being in conflict with what society expects, so I’m going to keep talking about it. That’s how I deal with everything, is I talk about it.
Ben: I think there’s a lot of privilege to being male, honestly, and privilege to presenting the same way that people assume when they look at me. I have friends who are trans* of a couple different varieties, and so gender presentation and choice around that is sometimes a topic of conversation around my friends. So gender is definitely something I’ve talked about, but my gender identity is not something I’ve talked about. How does your gender conform to mainstream ideas of what your gender should be? How does your gender not conform? Leslie: It conforms because I dress in ways that are normatively female, not only in clothing but also the way that I style my hair and wear makeup. I think that being a female is a much more heterogeneous experience than being a male— multiple roles and expectations of women in contemporary times when we’re no longer expected to stay at home and raise children. This heterogeneity allows for conflict and allows me to play to different things, and so I think that because I have this array of ways to identify and perform, that allows for me to resolve conflict in a way that’s not problematic—conflict isn’t a bad thing and it doesn’t necessarily need to be resolved. Casey: I grew up with a whole family of “fuck the patriarchy,” so there was a lot of familial pressure to not conform to gender norms. But there was also enough support for me as a woman not conforming to gender norms that I was always like “girl power, yeah, feminism, yay” as opposed to feeling uncomfortable or in any way ostracized for what I was doing that wasn’t necessarily stereotypically feminine.
Rose F.: I think the most obvious way I don’t conform to traditional gendered presentation is that I buzz my hair. I occasionally think about whether I want to grow it out specifically so I can look more male. But one of the reasons I like having buzzed hair is it doesn’t conform to either traditional femininity or traditional masculinity, so in some ways, whatever I’m wearing, I’m in drag, I’m a little bit transgressive. It feels like a very direct statement of who I am. Ben: I don’t think a lot about how my behavior does or does not conform. It’s not something that’s important to me. I like to think that that means I’m more likely to act in ways that might be considered traditionally not male. Max: I think that I pretty closely conform to the notion of the male gender. I don’t think I’m at an extreme of ultra-maleness. I feel like I’m pretty much in the middle of... I’m just, I’m a guy. I don’t know. Emily L.: I made a conscious decision a while back that I was going to treat gender like my costume, and I started presenting as normative female at job interviews and a lot of different jobs, because I realized that taking on different tones of voice, whether high or low, would put me in a hierarchy of conversation and allow me to be privy to certain things that I could later try to change. It was my queer gender espionage, which I think all of us have to do, really. Do you have gender role models? Who are they? What does having or not having gender role models mean to you?
Rose F.: I haven’t really thought in terms of role models very often, because so much of my understanding of who I am is just sort of poking at myself and saying, how do I feel about this? The idea of consciously emulating someone feels like trying to be something I’m not. I would rather derive it from first principles than try something on, conform to it, and then later find out it didn’t fit. I’ve done enough of that. Ian: Personally, no. In the societal sense, every movie I go to and every advertisement I see. Most songs that I listen to. I get reinforced on what being a guy is supposed to look like all the time. It is at the very least diverse enough today that it doesn’t give me any dissonance. Ben: The idea of having a gender role model says to me that there would be someone whose gender identity I look up to or want to emulate. I very intentionally don’t have one of those. I want to behave in the world the way that feels right to me and that is not tied to any particular expression of gender, be that an expression that’s consistent with how I present or with what people expect of me, I don’t care. Max: I don’t think I’ve ever had somebody that I explicitly looked to to teach me to how to be male, but my father raised me in the way that he raised me, and that of course influenced how I think about myself as a male. He was an influence on everything about me. My mother was a strong influence on how I acted as her son, and she treated me as her son, so I suppose that would have to have some influence on how I perceive myself as male as well.
Emily L.: RuPaul, because RuPaul’s Drag Race makes me cry constantly. I have it on a lot. I used to read Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist when I was in high school, and it made me feel better that I wasn’t the only one who was so angry. Outside of that it’s people who do little things that just sort of skew the norm. How does your body interact with your understanding of your gender? Have/would you change it to make it more like your understanding of your gender? Johanna: My experience has been fairly easy in that it has always been fairly well aligned to my gender expectations. Casey: I understand that my body is bad because it is a female body. And I should constantly be trying to modify it and I feel some guilt for the fact that I am too “lazy” —please put that in quotation marks—to change it, and I have a fair amount of internal conflict over which side I should let win. And then I get all pissed and I’m like “fuck the patriarchy.” Rose F.: I’ve thought about top surgery a lot, but I’m unlikely to ever do it. I just want hotswappable body parts, to have it be like clothes. It would feel odd to have surgery to make me look more male, because I don’t want to be male; what I want are choices, and bodies don’t give you a lot of choices. Bodies just tend to be what they are, and I think that’s just going to frustrate me for the rest of my life, and I’ll have to deal with it.
Ben: My concept of my gender is very aligned with my body’s sex. Is that the way to put that? The physical expression of my gender and my mental concept of my gender are in line with each other. So I don’t feel any need to change one to match the other. Rachel: I think that my body conforms to the mainstream expectation of my gender identity, and I’m happy about that. Sometimes I think that if I were taller, then I would be more capable of shopping in the men’s clothing department and I would be happier if I could do that. Because I’m like 5’0” and I always try on men’s shirts, and they’re always too long, and it kills me! Jenny: I have changed it—I’ve exercised and I’ve dieted to change it. Even things as small as painting my nails or wearing makeup are things I do to reaffirm my gender on my body. If I want to maintain the shape I like my body to be in, I have to do that stuff, and it does have a lot to do with my gender.
Emily L.: If I suddenly woke up and did not have my tits, I don’t think I would be a woman. Not because I think I am a woman because of my tits, but I mean that would be it and I would start presenting as male. I feel at best very powerful when I am adopting sort of a genderqueer presentation, and if I am not, I feel like I am in the wrong body, or I feel sick, or I feel suffocated. Have any of these questions felt unfamiliar or uncomfortable? Why? Leslie: I don’t think about them a lot—I tend to think more about gender in an abstract structural sense and less in terms of my personal experience, and more about how it’s constructed as a social experience, though obviously my experience feeds into that. Ben: Yes. I think on both counts. These aren’t questions I’ve ever been directly asked before, or necessarily thought of with myself as the subject. Partially because my answer to so many of these questions are “This all sort of lines up,” I haven’t spent a
lot of time examining this for myself, which makes these questions a little uncomfortable! Rachel: Almost all of them, yes. I think that I have a really complicated and underexamined relationship with my gender identity. And I do not know when I will have the time to untangle that and/or how to go about doing that. Jenny: Yeah, I felt a lot more awkward talking about this stuff than I thought I would. Probably because I really have never thought about a lot of this before, or been asked to vocalize these things before. Emily L.: No, I ask myself them a lot. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by friends and people who have either asked these questions of themselves or understand that a lot of people get a lot of pain from asking these questions of themselves. Johanna: They reveal the things that I haven’t thought about as much as I think that I thought about them.
SEX AND GENDER GLOSSARY Gender identity is one’s actual, internal sense of being male or female, neither of these, both, etc. Everyone has a gender identity, including you. A transgender person has a gender identity that does not match their birthassigned sex; a cisgender person has a gender identity that matches their birth-assigned sex. Gender expression or presentation is the physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, body shape, etc. Most transgender people seek to make their gender expression (how they look) match their gender identity (who they are), rather than their birth-assigned sex. Sex is the assignment and classification of people as male or female based on perceptions of physical anatomy that are necessarily imprecise. Sex is not fixed or immutable, and no single criterion (e.g. genitals, chromosomes, secondary sex characteristics, hormones, fertility) definitively describes one’s sex. Such a classification is arbitrary and irrelevant outside specific medical contexts where a single aspect of anatomy is important. Trans* is the prefix or adjective used as a simultaneous abbreviation of transgender and transsexual. It’s derived from the Latin word meaning “across from” or “on the other side of.” There are transgender people who do not identify as transsexual, and transsexual people who do not identify as transgender, so many consider “trans” to be the most inclusive and useful umbrella term. Many people use the asterisk (*) after “trans” as a Boolean marker to signify that there are many possible endings to the word, such as transgressive and transcendent. Cis is the prefix or adjective that means “not trans,” derived from the Latin word meaning “on the same side.” There’s seldom any meaningful differentiation between cisgender or cissexual, as both imply that a person (for the most part) lives comfortably as their sex and gender assigned at birth. Trans- and cis- are neutral descriptors analogous to homo- and hetero-, a pair of Greek-derived prefixes used in discussing sexuality. Gender-variant and gender-nonconforming are umbrella terms that describe any behavior or gender expression that does not conform to dominant binary gender norms. This can include trans*, non-binary, and genderqueer identities, as well as many others.
Genderqueer is a non-binary trans* identity. Those who identify as genderqueer may identify as neither male nor female; may see themselves as outside of, or in between, the binary gender boxes; or may simply feel restricted by gender labels. Some genderqueer people do identify within the binary (e.g. “genderqueer woman”), but reject or question the conventions and expectations associated with that gender. Butch is an identity or presentation that leans towards masculinity. Butch can be an adjective (“she’s a butch woman”), a verb (“they went home to butch up”), or a noun (“he identifies as a butch”). Although commonly associated with masculine queer/lesbian women, it’s used by many to describe a distinct gender identity and/ or expression, and does not necessarily imply that one also identifies as a woman. Femme is an identity or presentation that leans towards femininity. Femme can be an adjective (“he’s a femme boy”), a verb (“she feels better when she femmes up”), or a noun (“they’re a femme”). Although commonly associated with feminine lesbian/queer women, it’s used by many to describe a distinct gender identity and/or expression, and does not necessarily imply that one also identifies as a woman. Gender-affirming experiences make one feel that one’s gender is being seen, understood, and accepted. An example of a gender-affirming experience would be the experience of having one’s loved ones use one’s chosen name and correct pronouns. Non-gender-affirming experiences make one feel that one’s gender is being denied, misunderstood, or rejected. This can also be called “misgendering.” An example of a non-gender-affirming experience would be the experience of having one’s loved ones refuse to use one’s chosen name or correct pronouns. Top surgery is one of several kinds of gender confirmation surgery. Top surgery refers to surgery that alters a person’s chest, and is used in contrast to bottom surgery, which alters a person’s genitals and/or reproductive organs. Many of these definitions were taken or adapted from Erin Houdini’s Trans Glossary, an excellent resource that lives at: www.erinhoudini.com/transgender-glossary.html.
A Conversation with Bianca Laureano
Who’s Bianca Laureano? A radical educator. A passionate lover of life and people. A fierce-haired Puerto Rican sexologist. Leo. Six feet tall with tattoos in the double digits. In a tarot deck, she’d be the Wise Professor of the People, or the Lovers: a character that’s more sensual and complex, where there is more interpretation required, where there’s more to see. Walking into a room where no one looks like you or shares your heritage can be a sobering experience. For some of us, it’s a daily reality. I often go to professional and community conferences (probably way more than any given person should ever go to) where all the speakers are white, and there is zero mention of how race and ethnicity affect the issues being discussed. Whiteness is the default, and anything outside of the norm is, if mentioned at all, relegated to “special interest groups.” In a society where we’re still fighting for gender equality and basic civil rights, this state of affairs is not entirely surprising, though still disappointing. In the field of sexuality, many organizations and individuals still fail to acknowledge the contributions by and experiences of people of color. Enter Bianca Laureano. Co-founder of the Latinegr@s Project (an initiative to celebrate “all of the peoples who have influence and history via the African Diasporas”), Bianca has been working with communities of color around sex and sexuality for over a decade. Within that timeframe, she has continuously mentioned the need for greater visibility
of people of color, especially women, and dedicated herself to making those conversations heard. She graciously allowed me to interview her, and during a warm Friday afternoon, we headed over to a BBQ place, both decked out in impossibly large earrings—hers silver, mine neon yellow. As we sat down, I asked Bianca what her gut reaction was to the word “data.” Her first thought was the U.S. Census—counting numbers, problems, policies, and the negative effects data has had on her communities. She grew up in a Puerto Rican immigrant household and has a strong connection to a Caribbean identity, surrounded by neighbors who were from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other tropical islands. She told me stories of life at the margins, where it’s hard (if not impossible) to separate her blackness from her Latinidad, and how things like the Census aren’t a set of simple checkboxes for most Latin@s. For Bianca, there’s a deep love for the stories qualitative data can provide. The people in power often erase marginalized communities, or at best
reduce us to numbers—facts and figures in a spreadsheet or government report— subject to analysis by people outside the community. When the dominant society ignores (or minimizes) the importance of allowing communities to speak for themselves, sharing stories becomes an act of reclamation and liberation. In the field of sexuality and health, the pattern is clear; many organizations track numbers, not stories. Data reports are full of numbers: condoms distributed, HIV tests provided, number of people who tested positive for syphilis, and so on. It’s all disease, demographics, interventions. Bianca wants to focus her sexual health work differently. We both discussed how it was necessary to capture the nuance of people’s experience, and that a lot of that depended on the questions we asked. She told me she wants to see how people acquire knowledge, and how that information impacts the ways people build relationships with each other and act out their desires. Bianca is creating her own raciallyconscious sexual health data-sets with the Afrolatin@ Sex Survey. Over the course of 18 questions, she asks for some “demographic” information (which includes not only basics like ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, but also things like spiritual belief systems) as well as more in-depth data about what sexual health information survey-takers received throughout their life. Launched last month, the survey already has 110 responses, with 60 of those coming in during the first three days.
Bianca: I was fed up with no one talking about us, no one asking us about our sex lives... Aida: …or having it be other people talking about us. Bianca: Exactly, and we need to shift the conversation. People are bringing up the same issues over and over; we’re constantly healing from the same
injuries. With this survey, I decided to step back and see how we could refocus the entire conversation in a way that gave us all power, centralizing those who have been constantly ignored and marginalized. That’s why I wanted to focus on blackness and Latinidad. Aida: And that’s the big issue, too, in communities that are as diverse as Latin@s: how do we centralize the
most marginal experiences? Often, “including” Latin@s means finding the most “palatable” people within that community so that they can represent everyone while trying to not offend white sensibilities. Either that, or it’s about finding the people that fit best into prejudiced ideas and stereotypes held by the mainstream. As a light-skinned Latina (with non-regional diction, to boot!), I have a lot of privileges not afforded to those who can’t pass as white.
often people’s stories, and entire nation’s stories, are cannibalized, repurposed, or completely mangled by those in a place of higher power.
Bianca: Yeah, I was thinking “It’s our time now,” but I was I was also asking myself “How could I use this data and have it not hurt us? How could it help us?” That’s the thing that data hasn’t done. Often, it’s been static, and it has injured us. I want to let this survey live and evolve and let it be what it can be without me being attached to it as the main author.
Aida: Do you think there will be problems with the communal citation model, though?
This is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this survey: Bianca is aiming to give “communal citation” powers to everyone who participates in the project. In other words, anyone who contributes to the survey by filling it out will be credited as an author, and can claim partial ownership over the entire work and its results. She’s trying to “shift ideas of ownership over community stories” and create a participatory system where sharing is encouraged (and not at the expense of one’s history or dignity). Aida: This is especially relevant when looking at copyright issues and how they intersect with social justice, and particularly, civil rights. Actually, it reminds me of the new Janelle Monáe single, “Q.U.E.E.N.,” where she says “She who writes the movie owns the script and the sequel. / So why ain’t the stealing of my rights made illegal?” So
Bianca: With this survey, I decided I’m gonna shift the power and just give it to fuckin’ everybody. I do take ownership for any mistakes or problematic things within the survey, like the fact that it’s only available in English right now, but everything else is for the community to own.
Bianca: Oh, for sure, but I like shit that’s complicated! It doesn’t scare me. I see it as a place to evolve. My community can’t be linear; our lives as people of color aren’t like that anyway. And if the number of people who actually contributed to the survey doesn’t match the number of people who are claiming authorship, whatever. Different numbers aren’t a big deal. The point is to fuck shit up and disrupt [the traditional ways of looking at this information]. That gives opportunities for activists and scholars in the future to critique the work and build off of it! While Bianca’s long term goals with this survey are not set in stone, she sees this as the first stage of “a budding multilayered project centering Latinegr@s and sex/uality.” As she continues to work with interns to compile this data, one of the big questions she needs to address revolves around archival processes, and finding the optimal way of keeping all this information together. Bianca: That’s where the learning curve is for me. How do you store data when it’s alive?
READING IMAGES KATE DONAHUE
I took a walk with the intention of trying to find some way to talk about photography using photographs. Text accompanying photographic pieces invariably contextualizes the image and narrows the viewerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vision of what data and information it contains.
I expected to find situations where the photograph could convey specific information, such as the place in which it was taken. In these situations, an image of text allows that text to be transmitted to other viewers, effectively sending a message. What do these messages say? How do we feel about them?
How is the work going? A little sideways. The framing of the photograph communicates a certain disorderliness, sharing the photographerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s impression with the viewer. Does it transmit some amount of truth?
Contrast and disappointed expectations. What is happening in this moment? Why is the gate locked when it clearly shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be?
I found that the images I was collecting were often of discrete items, somehow dislocated from anything that would tell me more about them. When manipulating an image, the photographer attempts to tell you more about what they believe you should see in the image, to somehow translate emotional experience along with visual information.
What do we see when childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s toys are out in the world, isolated from a particular context? What do we see when the colors are slightly warmer?
And then I ended my walk. The topic remains a source of wonder for me. Can a photograph be taken that positively conveys a thousand words, in order, and tells everyone who sees it something universal? Perhaps. The results of my survey feel a bit ambiguous, aside from my impression that photographs are ultimately not data but ways to make data and information meaningful.
OPERA DATA, OPERA INFORMATION
I write opera. On May 4th I organized a workshop performance of an unusual piece of mine. Summer’s Twilight is a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for four singers playing the four lovers, a cellist playing Puck, a marimbist playing Oberon, and a pianist. The piece mixes operatic singing, straight theater, rhythmic and arrhythmic accompanied speech, and text transformed into instrumental music. Puck and Oberon do not speak their lines out loud, or sing them. They play them on their instruments, as if they were speaking a different language. Fellow #24MAG contributor Rose Ginsberg directed, for which I am eternally grateful. Summer’s Twilight is a labor of love for me, and I’ve been at it for years. I work a day job in the arts and I don’t have that much time to compose, so after putting in all this effort to produce a workshop performance, I want to learn everything I can from the experience. I want to learn from the rewrites, from the rehearsing, from the performers, and from the audience. But I don’t want to collect data from them. I want information. Data is quantifiable and numeric—sets of answers from multiple sources to similar questions. When you have data, you can analyze it with statistics, and when you’ve finished your analysis, hopefully you get information. In this case, for this project, data may be tempting, but it’s entirely the wrong tool. Data won’t give me the information I need. I don’t know any other composers who are even tempted to pull data out of workshop audiences. I grew up with hard reasoning, math, and logic (and yes, Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation), and I always want to solve problems with those tools. But sometimes I really shouldn’t. Instead, I need to do what actual scientists call qualitative research. Instead of forming simple, answerable questions to put to my audience, I need to have long conversations with as many 38 #24MAG
audience members as I can, and listen in detail to everything they say. This can seem like a more time-consuming approach, but it’s also much easier. If I were going to do quantitative research, I’d need to know the right questions to ask in order to get helpful yes-or-no answers. But in most cases, if I knew the right question to ask in order to get relevant data, I’d already have the information I need to make the piece better. For instance, I was very worried about one section in our opening dumbshow. Helena and Demetrius mime a sexual encounter involving some props. In Summer’s Twilight, a lot of the drama of the show derives from this encounter, which is set before Shakespeare’s play opens. The score is made up of a large group of different phrases for Puck and Oberon to play in response to different physical actions. The physical motions needed to be chosen in rehearsal, and the individual phrases aligned with the action afterward. I really wanted to know if this would work. And because I was so worried about it, we worked really hard on it in rehearsal. And so, it did work. After the show, I asked members of the audience if it worked and they all said “Yes.” From a statistical standpoint, that’s a 100% success rate. I should be over the moon. But the interesting information wasn’t in those answers. The really good information was in the rehearsal process. Yes, I am glad that the scene worked. But what I learned from rehearsal was how it worked. I’d thought that I would just put some chunks of music down, give it to the musicians, and say “You guys figure out the order.” Instead I wound up on the floor of the studio with papers spread out around me, deciding which order the sections would follow and working with everyone else to pick which exact gestures would align with particular notes. I didn’t know I was going to learn that before I learned it; the whole process took me
Rose Ginsberg by surprise. A survey could have been done, but the answers couldn’t have told me what I needed to know. The audience wouldn’t have known how to put that scene together, but there are a lot of other questions for which I do want answers from the audience: “How did the fairies come across?” “Did that pretty passage repeat enough?” “Were the handcuffs a bit much?” Those questions have quantifiable answers. But there weren’t that many people in the audience, so a survey wouldn’t have given me a big enough sample to achieve any kind of statistically significant result. And to really establish anything, I’d need to perform different versions of the piece for similar, but not overlapping, audiences, and ask them identical questions. That’s way too much work. On the other hand, if I just have long wandering conversations about the show with smart people in the audience, I can get not just the simple yes-or-no answers to the questions, but huge amounts of color, insight, invention, and nuance. Much better. Hard survey questions limit what your audience can do to help you. It takes out their creativity entirely. This is art. I need that creativity. Fellow #24MAG contributor Victoria Nece, who is both my partner and an animator, suggested creating another dumbshow scene, which I think will fit perfectly into the show, and help make Oberon into a potentially malicious force early in the piece. I’d been struggling to figure out how to do that. She also brought amazing ideas for lighting, live animation, and projection, all of which will help explain the fairies. Her ideas reminded me that there are hi-resolution scans of early editions of Shakespeare, Including the first folio, and that we could base graphics and projections on the actual shape of the text. You don’t get that from a survey. I have a dozen more conversations to have about this workshop, and I hope that all of them will be long, wandering, and over coffee, dinner, or drinks. That’s where I’m going to get the information I need, not from “data” per se.
Directing an opera when you’re the only person in the room who is not a trained musician is a bit daunting. Now, the music on the page isn’t entirely meaningless to me; I studied piano for twelve years and singing for five. My training took place more than a decade ago, however, and I failed my Advanced Music Theory exam. I can’t rely on the score the way the singers and musicians do. In many cases, I don’t fully understand the music until I hear them rehearse it. I like to show up fully prepared to work, and on this project I was operating on the fly a bit more than usual. When you’re working on a new and experimental opera based on Shakespearean text, though, that willingness to be surprised can be an asset. I didn’t expect it to proceed like a typical opera rehearsal because I knew it wasn’t a typical opera. So the performers showed me the structure of each piece, and then I helped them match that with an intention and a character arc. As a group, we figured out how best to combine blocking and acting with the music. We learned how to speak each other’s languages—and I don’t just mean that I try to remember to give notes by measure number rather than lyric. It was a new sort of rehearsal process for a new sort of piece. Everyone brings their area of expertise to the table, and everyone is also to a certain extent out of their element, which makes for a uniquely exciting collaboration.
Ian Danskin + Emily Kadish + Rose Ginsberg IAN DANSKIN: So, I guess we should begin by talking about: what is our relationship to theater? Why are we qualified to even be talking about it? EMILY KADISH: I work for a company that publishes and licenses plays. I communicate with playwrights about getting their plays onto the page and finalized. ROSE GINSBERG : I’m a director. I’ve been directing plays in New York professionally and semiprofessionally since 2005. ID: Awesome. I am the nonpro in the room. My dad was a theater minor and an art major. My parents actually met doing summer stock theater in Kansas. So, I was raised pretty much in the community theater in my town. I sort of generated a family when I was there, of people who really knew my skills, and I’ve never really done theater since I don’t have that family around anymore, which is interesting. EK: It’s funny, because I hear that bio and think, “Oh, well, of
course you’re a theater person.” You don’t have to be a theater professional in order to be, quote-unquote, a “theater kid.” It seems to me that you can be a theater kid no matter what— you know, people self-identify as jocks, even if they’re no longer playing lacrosse in their afterschool program. It’s just the way you approach things. I think, no matter what I do, professionally or non, it’s always informed by that background. RG: Yes. I also think that one of the hardest things, speaking as someone who’s been trying to navigate the New York theater scene for the past X years, is finding your family, because the New York theater scene is huge. And it overlaps in many, many places. In some ways it can feel like a small community, because everybody tends to know everybody. But not everybody always works together. And I think that one of the challenges is to find your family of collaborators that you will keep collaborating with. And that’s how you sort of
create your place in that world. And it can be tricky to do. ID: Do you mean on the production end or on the acting end? RG: Yes. ID: Because I find that one of the freaky things about acting, especially, is that it usually means going into a room full of strangers and trying to do your best work, and, if you threw this monologue in your audition, does that mean you can’t do it in the actual performance? RG: Yes. One tricky thing I’ve found is that actually—and I’m not the first person to have this thought, but the set of skills that it takes to be a good auditioner are not at all the same set of skills that it takes to be a good performer. ID: That is definitely true. RG: It’s sort of a strange way to try out for an acting gig, because I have worked with great auditioners who then gave not-so-great performances. And
I have worked with brilliant actors who can’t audition. So, that’s one trick. And then I think, partially because of that discrepancy, what a lot of people, myself included, wind up doing as we do more and more shows is we cast the same people. And it becomes sort of insular, yes, but essentially what you’re doing is you’re taking that element of uncertainty out of the equation. ID: One of the almost impossible things to convey when you’re just speaking a monologue in front of people is whether or not you can take direction. RG: Yeah. EK: Yes. ID: Theater once upon a time was one of the primary ways that people saw a narrative, performed with live actors. And nowadays, film has, at least as far as culture in general, supplanted that. Is theater dead? Or in what ways is it not dead? EK: What attracted me to theater in the first place was its directness. You know, you’re in a room; there are other people in the room; you both have to be
there for each other. You both have to be responding to each other. And you just can’t, at least right now, do that with film. Rose and I actually saw a play written and directed by Guillermo Calderón; it was called Neva. The play was interesting in its own right, but primarily the ending, in which this somewhat mild-mannered character had this unbelievably powerful monologue that was sort of what one would imagine more classicstyle theater would yell at us moderns. RG: Yeah, she was building to this incredible climax, and you just couldn’t tell where it was going to go. EK: And where it went was—all of the action took place on this very, very small platform that was rather high up. And she just plummets off the back of it into darkness. And there’s no sound. And just for a second, you, sitting in your seat, have this very visceral, physical response. “Oh my God, she’s fallen off the back of this platform by accident.” But in fact, that was by design.
ID: Makes you wonder whether or not it’s fake, or actually convinces you for a moment that it’s not. EK: And also gives you that element of risk. RG: I think that live performance has a unique capacity as an art form—to enable the people engaged in it to develop more empathy. I think that theater can help us be better to each other, because you don’t have the barrier between yourself and the story that you have in film. Film is removed. It’s far away from you. The screen is far away from you. And it’s pre-recorded, and it’s always going to be the same. And theater is not. When you can really draw the audience in and put them in the same room with the story as it’s happening, they become involved and implicated in it in a way that I don’t think they do in any other medium. EK: Occasionally, I’ll notice myself going, “My God, I am sitting here in a room while someone is singing and dancing for me.” And it feels almost a little archaic, but not in a bad way. You feel like royalty. You know? “Yes, dance for me.”
RG: But it also puts you in a place where, ideally, you owe each other and pay each other consideration, as audience and performer. As a performer, I owe it to you to give you a good time, and to keep you involved and to entertain you. And, as an audience member, I owe you consideration for the effort and time and thought and talent that you have put into this. ID: It’s not just this economic transaction, “I paid for my movie ticket and I get my movie.” It is more like, “I have a role that I have to perform as an audience member as well.” RG: Right, because the people are right in front of you. And if you don’t play your role, either onstage or as an audience member, the people on the other side of the equation know. ID: And it decreases the quality of your experience, because if you throw them off you don’t get as good a show. EK: Have you ever been to a show where there has been some major technical malfunction? ID: I’ve been in many such a show. EK: But have you been to one? ID: Oh, yes. RG: Yes, I have. EK: I hadn’t until recently. I was sitting there with another theater friend, and both of us were sitting there going, “We feel responsible. Should we help?” You know, it’s like saying, “Is there a doctor in the house?” And I think that everybody in the room—you know, if you go to a movie, and the movie screws up, you’re like, “Aw, crap. Loews!” But if you go to a show and something screws up, then you’re on the edge of your seat. RG: There’s no middleman in theater. You know, when a movie screws up, when you’re 42 #24MAG
at the Loews and the projector fouls, it’s not the director of the movie’s fault. It’s not the actors’ fault. They’re not even there. But, in theater, it’s that immediacy, again, where the people whose fault it is are the people who are also creating it for you. And so, it’s a more complicated relationship. ID: Have either of you seen the D.A. Pennebaker movie about the recording of the original cast album of Company? RG: Yes, so good. EK: No, I haven’t. ID: OK, so, what’s fascinating about this is it’s people performing songs that they’ve performed every night, eight times a week, for months. And all of a sudden they have to make a definitive version. They’ve never had to think, “What is the proper version of this song,” because theater is this living document. And that’s the polar opposite of when you go to a movie, because if Bruce Willis looks directly into the camera lens, he just looked at you in the eyes, no matter where you’re sitting. If you’re at a live show, depending on where you’re sitting, you’re getting completely different angles on everything. There is no privileged viewpoint. The other thing about it being a living document is that no one wants to see a revival of Cabaret that’s the same as it was 40 years ago. Every show is supposed to be constantly evolving. EK: You’d think, except I’ve definitely heard a lot of, “Oh, it’s great. They’re doing a revival of Blah-de-Blah. I hope it’s as good as the previous time.” You know, “It wasn’t like the book.” To a certain extent, that’s the trouble you get into with revivals. I’m certainly not the first one to say that. ID: Which seems very antithetical to what my experience with theater is. Especially since I grew
up doing community theater, where if we’re going to do A Streetcar Named Desire, we can’t do it the way everybody’s used to seeing it, because why would anyone want to go see it? They can just watch the movie in that case. So, we’d do this weird thing where the entire set is just purple silks hanging from rafters. The set designer doesn’t want to build the same set that everybody already knows. That’s something that theater, even if it doesn’t demand it, it lends itself to. EK: We as a licensing company, as part of our contract, people who license plays from us can’t change the text of the play. And we make exceptions, if you ask us, and if we clear it. So, for example, there are a couple of older plays that have really racist things in them. But you can cut it, as long as you clear it with us. Or you can say, “Hey, we’re doing this for a school audience. Can we tone down the cursing in this play?” And that’s probably fine. Like, you’re probably not going to get too far toning down the cursing in The Motherfucker with the Hat. But there’s an interesting moment where directorial intent starts to eclipse authorial intent. And that’s where— RG: You have a problem. EK: For example, we have a lot of trouble with people trying to do drag casts of Steel Magnolias, which is not okay. RG: I would watch Steel Magnolias: The Drag Revue. EK: Unfortunately, the author does not want that. RG: Fair enough. It’s the author’s prerogative. My dramatic structure teacher was fond of saying, “The playwright is God when you’re in the rehearsal room.” And while obviously there are limits to this, I do as a director tend to agree. And I think that, personally, you have to make
your choices as a director organic to the text somehow. Because if you have a brilliant idea that you don’t know what to do with, and you just sort of shoehorn it into the script and it’s not actually related to, what you’re going to end up with is a horribly contrived production that doesn’t really end up saying anything about either your point of view or the script you’re working with. ID: Rose, talking about that authorial intent versus director’s intent, how do you resolve that tension? How do you as a director decide, “What do I want to do versus what does the writer want me to do?” RG: Well, when I choose a script, or agree to direct a script, it’s because there is something about the script that I connect to. And so there’s something about what the author is trying to say that I also want to say. So, it’s not about, “What do I have to say about what the writer is trying to say?” It’s “What do the writer and I both have to say together?” I think. ID: But you have to interpret it. RG: Yes. ID: So you have to hope your interpretation is accurate? RG: Well, if you’re working with a public domain piece, it doesn’t really matter, frankly. And somebody else may see your interpretation as completely inaccurate. But that doesn’t mean it is. And if you’re working with a current author, then ideally you’re in conversation with them about it. Communication with the playwright is so, so, so, so important, which is a lesson that I learned very early in my career. ID: So, what if you’re directing Arcadia in a community theater? You’re probably not going to get to talk to Tom Stoppard. RG: No. But also, Tom Stoppard’s
probably not going to come see the play. No, but you have to approach the play in good faith, I think. You have to approach the play with respect for the script. EK: I sort of feel like we can’t have this conversation without talking about Sleep No More at least a little. RG: Sleep No More is an interactive, site-specific performance piece currently in New York City that is basically Macbeth, but they’ve taken over an entire old hotel. And it’s sort of a masquerade ball and it’s sort of a labyrinth and it’s sort of a theater piece. It’s totally immersive. EK: Occasionally a character will grab you by the arm and shoot you this look that says, “Oh my God, you need to come with me, because I need to tell you a story,” and then they’ll pull you into a room and tell you a fairy tale or something. It’s like the theater is coming to get you. The theater would like to have a conversation with you so much that it will take you into another space and it will talk to you. The theater got very hungry and sad that you were just sitting there like an audience, and so now it’s swallowing you up. Sorry, this is beginning to sound like Neil Gaiman allegory. RG: So why do we have to talk about Sleep No More? EK: Because I could just as easily say, or an audience member could just as easily say, “Oh, it’s not like those dumb theater things where you just sit there. That’s not immediate. This is immediate. When it reaches out and grabs you, then it’s immediate.” RG: Well, it’s taking it to another level, that’s for darn sure. ID: It’s also one of those ways that it says, “OK, fine, we’re not going to be like film. We’re going to take this fact that the
audience is having an active role, and we’re going to grab that, and we’re going to run the fuck in that direction with it.” EK: I guess what I’m saying is what seems to be a newer frontier in performance is performance that isn’t on that traditional model of, “We go into a nice building, we sit in rows, there’s a 15-minute intermission where we get Peanut M&Ms, and there’s a cell phone announcement.” RG: That’s very popular right now, sort of doing these different styles of site-specific or immersive theater, which is wonderful, and I am all for it. ID: For centuries, painting was the way that you captured this portrait of a person or a scenario. And then photography comes along, and I can capture a portrait of a scenario much faster and much more accurately. So then painting says, “Well, what can I do that you can’t?” And you get Impressionism. And it’s as though theater is saying, “Well, the thing that we did for a long time can be done in another medium now, but there are things that are unique to us. And we are now going to explore that territory.” And I actually relate it a lot to videogame design, this notion of having an active audience who is participating in the experience, and that the experience is going to be unique for each audience member. Every game of Mario is at least a few frames different from the other game of Mario. Everybody’s experience is, to some extent, unique. Theater is jumping in this direction: “Well, how unique can I make it? And what is permissible?” RG: And, to circle back to your earlier question, that’s exactly how it stays alive. It’s the way any art form stays relevant. What can I do that you can’t? What can I do that nobody else can do?
Responding to A week after my 27th birthday, I was
by raped Casey byMiddaugh a man I considered a good friend.
This article isn’t about that experience. It’s about cognitive-perceptual therapy (CPT), a structured and data-driven model of therapy that focuses on one specific experience. Every person and every experience requires a different approach, but I found CPT helpful as I struggled to make sense of what had happened and how I was reacting. My introductory CPT session was designed to make sure that my experience required this type of therapy and to make sure that I was willing to go through the process. I filled out a questionnaire that asked me to rate the frequency of experiences like nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and physical flashbacks: rarely (1), often (2), or always (3). At the end of the questionnaire, the answers added up to a number indicating how I was doing that day. At that first session, my total was 17. My therapist told me therapy was indicated at 16. She was lying. Therapy was indicated at 18, but I was curled up in a ball, sobbing, sitting on the floor because the chair and the low bookshelf left me feeling too exposed and I needed higher walls. The therapist used her judgment to fudge my self-reported data and get me into the therapy I clearly needed. In retrospect, I think that first day I was probably hovering around a 25. One of the things I was to learn was that I have a tendency to minimize the effect that negative things are having on me. I didn’t have the skills at that point to accurately rate where I was that day.
Therapy was highly structured. After that first session, I was told not to talk about the rape directly until we’d gone through “Introduction and Education,” “The Meaning of the Event,” and “Identification of Thoughts and Feelings.” I chafed at this restriction. It had been nearly a year since the rape, and I was frustrated about the learning curve. I had gotten myself to help! Let me talk about the rape already! But I had to learn first. I appreciated having homework, having assignments, having a clear set of objectives I could fulfill each day and week. The first skill I had to acquire in therapy was learning how to identify “stuck points.” My handouts define stuck points as “Conflicting beliefs or strong negative beliefs that create unpleasant emotions and problematic or unhealthy behavior.” They’re circular ideas that kept popping up and needed to be dulled or exorcised. Stuck points aren’t behaviors or feelings or facts or questions. They are thoughts about yourself or your understanding of why the trauma happened. Stuck thoughts frequently use extreme language, and often can be formatted in an “if... then...” structure. (I often started with “because.”) The examples from my worksheets were from the veterans’ hospital and involved killing people and military hierarchy; I didn’t identify. Instead, I wrote my own. My stuck thoughts are not necessarily the stuck thoughts that people assumed I would have. Frankly, my stuck thoughts are not necessarily the stuck thoughts that I assumed I would
have. My stuck thoughts included “Because I didn’t say no, this is my fault” and “Because I spoke up, this isn’t a big deal.” Fundamentally, the thought that I couldn’t get away from was “My rape doesn’t count.” The next step was doing ABC worksheets: the Activating event that leads me to the stuck point, the Belief/stuck point itself, and the Consequence, what I feel when I tell myself the stuck point. On one worksheet, I wrote: Activating event: Writing account of rape Belief/stuck point: It doesn’t seem like rape, no one will believe me Consequence: Anguish Today it is hard to remember that anguish is what I kept feeling. Devastation and loss and loneliness. I don’t remember feeling that, but I remember my body tensing up; I remember how physically empty I felt when I wrote the word “anguish.” There is a final question on the bottom of the page: “What can you tell yourself on such occasions in the future?” I told myself that people did believe me. That I sobbed so much that it must have been a bad experience. That I can trust my body’s memory of my emotions. That the experience of having PTSD means that I’m worthy of using the word “rape” to describe what happened to me. The week of my next birthday, I wanted to physically exhaust myself. I wanted my body to ache and my mind to stop racing. I hiked and got lost in a forest at night. I rented a kayak and wandered a lake. I hadn’t biked in
Trauma with Data
years, so I rented a bike and travelled for 14 miles. It didn’t work. I couldn’t make my body ache and hurt enough. I couldn’t use it enough. I couldn’t feel centered and grounded and anchored in my body. It wasn’t until I got to therapy that week that I made the connection between my birthday and the anniversary of my rape. That week, my questionnaire score was 28. When the time came to actually talk about the rape, I was tasked with writing an account full of as many sensory details as I could include. Anytime I needed to stop writing because it was too hard, I was to draw a line on the page and keep writing again as soon as I could handle it. Then I had to read it aloud to myself every day. My account was six pages long. I stopped twice. Describing the actual rape took six paragraphs. The rest was context of what happened before and what happened afterwards. I hated reading it aloud. But I diligently did my homework because already the physical memories were less frequent and I trusted the process. My nightmares were decreasing and I was hesitantly (ever so hesitantly) starting to be willing to use the word... “rape.” I flip-flopped between feeling proud and frightened of that word. I was strengthened by feeling ownership of such a powerful word,
“No one will believe me!” Most people I’ve talked to have believed me. Everyone who has mattered to me has believed me.
and scared that it would be taken away from me, that I didn’t deserve something so strong and aggressive and undeniable. A word that can’t be ignored. We moved on to problematic patterns of thinking. My standbys were exaggerating and minimizing situations, jumping to conclusions, and emotional reasoning. I exaggerated the consequences of my mistakes and minimized the effects of pain I was experiencing (remember the 17 rating on my first day?). I decided that what I believed was accurate regardless of whether I had any actual evidence backing me up, and even when I had evidence that contradicted what I believed. (“No one will believe me!” Most people I’ve talked to have believed me. Everyone who has mattered to me has believed me.) Emotional reasoning is a fun one where you decide that because you feel bad, that means you must have done something wrong. As we worked through stuck thoughts that were obviously related to my rape, older stuck thoughts, including some that had been entrenched for decades, began to rise to the surface. I felt that I was fundamentally unworthy. I feared that when I feel most myself, I am actually taking attention away from more deserving people. As those thoughts popped up, CPT gave me the tools to replace them with thoughts that were more in line with reality. At the first session, my therapist said that the goal was to halve my questionnaire score. By the eighth week or so I was consistently hovering
around a 7. I was proud of what I had learned and was struggling to complete my homework because some of it frankly didn’t apply to me. I got smug; clearly I was so amazing at therapy that I was basically totally cured and emotionally dealing with my rape (see how freely I used the word!) and it would remain a somewhat troubling memory, but one that was firmly in the past. No more flashbacks; no more immediacy. The week before therapy was supposed to end, I had a massive relapse. An experience with a pushy guy led to a week of very difficult days, actively trying to use all my new tools in order to untie the knots my brain had tied. I did the best I could to take care of myself, though I wasn’t very graceful about it. Next time I’ll do better. I’m glad I had the relapse while still in therapy. It was terrifying to realize that I could be triggered back to overwhelming feelings, and being able to work through that in a stable, familiar environment was invaluable. I know I will probably have relapses in the future, sinking into the deepseated stuck thoughts I haven’t yet been able to budge—but now I have the tools. I have a process. I have worksheets and a way to track my progress. The first day I walked into therapy I broke down, so grateful to finally be hopeful that I would be able to get help, because I couldn’t do it on my own any longer. Now I feel like I can face whatever I might need to.
Taking the Safety Off
I was walking to my house from the BART station at maybe quarter after midnight, after seeing the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie for no good reason. I remember pretty clearly which track by Botch I had playing in my headphones when I found myself face down on the sidewalk. The music wasn’t playing anymore. My glasses were gone. Confused, I pressed my palms on the concrete to push myself up. One pair of someone else’s hands grabbed my hoodie and pushed me back down, while another pair of hands was trying to pull my bag off my shoulder. Some reflex pushed me to stand again, this time raising my arm so my bag would be easier to take—a gesture that told them to take my bag and just let me go. I said, “Chill out, just chill out,” noticing that my teeth didn’t fit right anymore. The hands on my jacket pulled on me as I stood and started to run—I later found that they’d torn it—but they let me go. I was less than a block from home and, nearsighted and functionally blind, ran by muscle memory to my front door, into the bathroom where one of my housemates was brushing his teeth, and spat blood into the sink. They’d broken my jaw in two places. The gums between my front lower teeth were torn so that my left jaw swiveled out as though hinged. They’d gotten my CD player, some notebooks, three albums, and my copy of Politics and the English Language by George Orwell. They hadn’t spoken. I hadn’t seen their faces, or even their hands. For months I couldn’t walk home. There was no way up my street but for the way I’d come that night. I could only go home on my bike, hauling it into the basement as quickly as I could, and calling my best friend immediately to check in. I bought a container of pepper spray and attached it to my wrist with a hair tie, and clicked the safety off any time I didn’t feel secure. I got free surgery through
Highland Hospital’s low-income plan. The surgery damaged some nerves, and I’ve never regained complete sensation in my lower lip. I have two plates holding my chin together; the X-rays look like an Erector set. I had just gone back into therapy for unrelated mid-twenties emotional dreck, but I got connected with an eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapist through the same center. EMDR therapy, at least in my case, involved headphones that beep in alternate ears and paddles that vibrate in opposite hands. Posttraumatic stress disorder was described to me like this: the emotional half of the brain is so distraught by what’s happened that the rational side can’t convince it there’s no longer a threat. The alternating sensations try to force the two halves to communicate, and while this happens I was asked to close my eyes and describe the events in detail, focusing on the parts which made me grip my hands as my therapist coaxed me to breathe through the memories. After two sessions of EMDR—all I could afford—I was calm enough to walk up my street again. It was more stressful than walking up one’s home street should be, but an achievable task. I also felt a weird sort of guilt for being the victim of isolated violence in a city where violence is often not isolated. I knew there were parts of Oakland where having one’s jaw broken and being able to walk away was getting off easy. I don’t mean to downplay my experience; what happened to me shouldn’t happen to anyone. But I was still, in a way, fortunate. My stint with PTSD was thankfully brief. I kept my pepper spray, but mostly left the safety on. I got new glasses. Within a few months, I discovered that, even with a numb lip, I could still kiss. But my smile isn’t the same; I don’t pronounce S’s the same way. Recovery wasn’t a return to normal, just a trip to something normal enough.
These are difficult days to be a fan of contact sports. A growing body of evidence is revealing just how dangerous certain sports, most prominently football and hockey, can be to the people (mainly boys and men) who play them. The dangers of traumatic brain injuries such as post-concussion syndrome and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) are becoming increasingly well-known through coverage of scientific studies and athletes’ stories in such forums as the New York Times1, Rolling Stone2, and Sports Illustrated3. But despite the mounting medical evidence, the National Football and Hockey Leagues have made only superficial gestures towards addressing the problem, refusing to engage with the violent aspects of their sports, and fans, commentators, and even players and their families have been resistant to change. Why are we prioritizing certain aspects of fan culture over the health and lives of the athletes? How can the tragic stories of men like Iron Mike Webster and Derek Boogaard, and teenagers like Eric Pelly, leave us insufficiently outraged? As a theater director, I deal in stories, and I think the narratives that we as a culture construct around professional athletes can offer keys to our seeming indifference. We create iconic identities for star athletes—the underdog finally triumphant, the veteran seeking a final victory, the bad boy made good—that eclipse their real, complex selves. We elevate them to the level of mythical heroes, with their physical prowess and bravery in combat, and then we don’t know how to react when their human weakness becomes apparent. When severe concussion symptoms, such as memory loss and debilitating vertigo, end the career of a star like Chris Pronger or Steve Young, critics line up to call him a “sissy” and a quitter. We must have been wrong about him all along, they seem to say. He couldn’t have been that great then if he’s hurt now. We don’t want to believe that these giants can be physically vulnerable. We don’t want them to have feet of clay. These narratives exemplify the hyper-masculine culture of men’s professional sports in America, which values fortitude and endurance and disdains anything that could be construed as weakness. The star athletes of these leagues are held up as paragons of maleness, not just for their strength but also determination, competitiveness, and overwhelming confidence in themselves. Fans, commentators, and colleagues alike praise them for playing through injury, for returning to the action as quickly as possible regardless of their
symptoms or any doctor’s opinion. Particularly in the light of evidence that CTE is caused by minor blows to the head over time rather than one isolated major incident,4 why do we trust athletes to self-report their health status instead of independent doctors? These athletes fulfill the role that their culture has set for them; suffering heroically in silence and putting the team before oneself is the manly thing to do. But not all players achieve exalted superstar status from their fans. What about the journeymen who make up the majority of professional athletes, the Dave Semenkos supporting the Wayne Gretzkys? In an article for Guernica, Joe Van Acker argues, “Enforcer culture in the NHL [in which certain players’ role on the team is solely to hit and fight] exemplifies the endemic disregard we have for our athletes, whatever the sport.”5 When I first read that, I was shocked. Athletes in our culture are revered as role models and heroes. Aren’t they? But Van Acker continues, “A lot of them are hurried through high school and college only to be manipulated into making bad investments with their deceptively large paychecks. They live in the cruel spotlight of public perception. They sacrifice the best years of their lives to entertain us.” We react to our athletes in extremes: either we idolize them in a way they could never hope to live up to, or we ignore them completely once they leave the arena. In both cases, we utterly distance ourselves from them, refusing to engage with them as fellow human beings. This phenomenon may be endemic in sports culture, but I don’t think it’s intrinsic. On the contrary, my experience as a theater director suggests that live performance offers a particularly powerful opportunity to foster empathy in an audience. Watching other people interact in real time, particularly in a shared space, invites the spectator to project himself into the story and to identify more deeply with the performers. We have to let go of our grand narratives (or our indifference) so that we can see athletes the way we sometimes see actors on a stage: not as inaccessible gods or puppets that dance for us, but as people like us. In the face of hard medical data, we cannot allow the stories we’ve created to obscure the athletes’ lived reality. We are their fans and supporters. We owe them better than that. For endnotes, please visit 24mag.org/issue-5
PUBLIC DATA DAVID DYTE
Science, Statistics, and the Media BEN CORDES & IAN DANSKIN These notes are the distillation of a conversation among contributors Johanna Bobrow, David Dyte, and Ian Danskin. Johanna is a biologist; David is a statistician; Ian is a former after-school educator. Science, to put it succinctly, is the formation of a testable hypothesis. That is, one generally observes the world, wonders about some piece of it, and tries to deduce how it works. Ancient Greek philosophers might stop there, but in a modern academic setting, these steps are generally followed by testing the hypothesis in a rigorous manner. The results are published for an academic audience, and then other scientists try to replicate the published results or poke holes in the hypothesis. Although we live in a technological society, most of us don’t understand much about science. In many cases, our primary engagement with science comes filtered through science journalism and bloggers. With that in mind, we discussed some core things that we think are useful to keep in mind when reading these accounts. Science is everywhere. Complex theories about the 13-dimensional universe are science. Counting the seconds between mile markers to determine whether your bus is late is also science. Science is a methodology, not a body of knowledge, and some portion of the scientific spectrum is available to everybody. 52 #24MAG
Science strives to be impartial, but scientists are not, and neither are journalists. All humans are fallible. We process information better when it tells a linear story. Linear stories rarely appear spontaneously. Scientists approach their research with suppositions and preconceived notions; great scientists try to set them aside, while others don’t try so hard. No one is ever completely successful at eliminating assumptions and bias. If a report on an experiment doesn’t state what problems were encountered or what other theories might explain the results, ask why. Journalists, no matter their integrity, are not paid to be impartial. They’re paid to sell newspapers and magazines. Be skeptical. “Theory” can mean a lot of things. The theory that penicillin kills bacteria can be, and has been, tested in a lab over and over again. The theory that all matter in the universe exploded from a single point in space is different: we can’t replicate the Big Bang in a laboratory. But we can go looking for evidence. We can calculate what such an event would do to the background radiation of the universe, and then go see if it looks the way we theorized. If it matches up, the theory is, thus far, solid. Then there are those 13-dimensional universe theories that cannot be tested or observed—at least not yet—but help make sense of the data that we can’t seem to explain otherwise. The word “theory” applies to all of these things. When someone
Interview: Luke MIRATRIX
says evolution is “just a theory,” it is worth remembering how robust a theory can be. However, not all theories are equal. Two explanations of the same theory are rarely equally robust. This is why scientists check one another’s work. A theory that is embraced by more scientists is usually—usually—more sound. Relatedly, if a journalist presents two differing opinions and does not mention the amount of support each opinion has, it’s worth digging deeper. Some people make things up. Much inaccuracy in science is due to human fallibility, and ditto for science journalism. But it is still profitable to tell people what they will find incredible, or to tell them what they want to hear. The more amazing a finding is, or the more you want it to be true, the more skepticism it deserves. Science, like fashion and Facebook, is never finished. Every theory is a living document. There is no last word. This is not as grim as it may sound. Many people worry that science robs the world of mystery. Not so! Science is a mystery-perpetuation machine. Every “Why?” has an answer, and every answer prompts another “Why?” Scientists don’t acquaint themselves with uncertainty; they revel in it.
We asked Luke Miratrix, an assistant professor of statistics at Harvard University, to give us his opinion on how statistics are reported in the media. In general, he writes, “I believe that the general population could handle more numbers, more cleanly presented charts, and more information. When statistics are presented, their utility is sometimes undermined by the presentation. Charts and graphs are very useful, but the media often makes them hard to understand by adding lots of unnecessary graphics to make them ‘pretty.’” Here are some other common pitfalls and problems that Miratrix identified in popular science journalism: You’re not getting the whole picture. Headlinegrabbing results are often presented outside of the context of the scientific report in which they were originally published. Researchers usually add qualifications to results and describe sources of uncertainty in their data, but these details are often removed before they make it to the mainstream media. Ratios aren’t everything. “Numbers are often presented for maximal shock value,” says Miratrix. If an effect causes a “30-fold increase in risk,” that seems scary. But the truth may be that the risk has increased from 1 in one million to 30 in one million. If taking a drug provides a 99% chance of recovery, it’s important to know whether the chance of recovery without the drug is 98% or 28%. Consider the context. One million dollars is a lot of money when compared to the average American annual household income. However, relative to the annual budget of the United States government, one million dollars has a much smaller impact. Dollar amounts are particularly susceptible to this fallacy. Likewise, “15 people experienced side effects” is very different depending on whether there are 17 people in the study or 2,000. Association isn’t the same as causation. “When looking at an association between two things, try to come up with a way that the first thing could cause the second, the second thing could cause the first, or some third thing could cause both. If you can come up with a story for all three things, you haven’t established causality,” says Miratrix.
Interview w Like a lot of Boston-area people, I did not leave my house much on April 15th, the day of the Boston Marathon bombing, nor on April 19th, when a manhunt shut down most of the greater Boston metropolitan area. I spent the bulk of this inside time on MetaFilter, a community weblog founded in 1999, where users post, compile, and discuss links and ideas. The thread on the bombing quickly became one of the largest in MetaFilter history, as users added and fact-checked links for the entire week. Josh Millard, a.k.a. cortex, is one of the people who was tasked with moderating that thread.
Ian Danskin: On a site like MetaFilter, content is provided by the community, but there’s a strong “MetaFilter voice”—fairly liberal, fairly educated, surprisingly courteous. How does a freeform community find its voice? cortex: I can note a few things that I think contribute to it. 1. MetaFilter cohered as a web community that had a sense of place from early on; people on the site were talking about the site and how they used it from the very beginning, rather than just using it a drive-by depot for links. 2. MetaTalk [the subsite for discussing site policy] has facilitated a sense of involvement and transparency with the site. I’ve personally found some other discussion/community sites on the web frustrating in that their facility for or approach to metadiscussion and community self-policing was limited, opaque, dismissive, or just entirely absent. On MetaFilter, people who want to know what’s up or what other people are thinking or whether site policy serves site needs well can go over to MetaTalk and bring that up directly and talk it out. That also helps keep site metadiscussion out of normal threads, which keeps discussions about a given link or subject a bit more focused and free of nitpicking or complaints.
3. We charge people to sign up. $5 for a lifetime membership isn’t much, but it’s a speed bump that prevents the vast majority of drive-by lowengagement users we might otherwise have to deal with; that helps reduce moderation workload, but more importantly, I think it means people who sign up actually took a moment and considered it and decided they really want to be here. And it means site growth is pretty wellcontained; because we don’t have giant mobs of people showing up at any given time, the existing userbase has a chance to model good site behavior for new folks and pass on the site culture in a sort of slow-and-steady fashion. 4. Relatively civil and polite behavior comes down, I think, to both active moderation (we do our best to keep things from getting ugly wherever possible) and a general expectation at the community level that we should be polite to each other, civil in discourse, whenever possible such that the really ugly behavior is less likely to happen in the first place. When folks care about where they are and value the kind of site dynamic they have already, it can be selfreinforcing in a way that accomplishes a lot that even really extensive moderator intervention couldn’t otherwise hope to make happen.
with cortex ID: Does a thread like the Boston bombing thread require special moderator attention? c: Oh heck yeah. Additional hours not so much, at least not explicitly; whoever is on shift is on shift and it’s a given they’ll be around during that time and keeping up with whatever is going on as best they can, and when their shift is over they can clock right out. But everyone who works here cares a lot about the place, and we’re very much a team, so it’s likely that if things are a bit chaotic on the site folks who aren’t on the clock will check in and help out a little bit managing the firehose of activity, or giving someone a proper break to go get lunch and clear their head or whatever. The biggest challenge with a very fast-moving thread like the Boston Marathon is that the window of time is much smaller for dealing with problematic or derailing or fight-starting comments before they create a mess. In a typical MetaFilter discussion, there might be a comment every five or fifteen minutes over a period of several hours; if someone drops a stinker into a thread, all that’s likely to happen in the next ten minutes is a couple people will flag it, someone might snark back, we’ll see the flags, and we’ll go nix it if that’s the best plan, or just leave a note telling folks to cool it. In something like the Boston threads (and there were a couple of them on MetaFilter proper), comments may be coming in something like five or ten every minute. It’s a full-time effort just to keep up with the comments as they’re coming in. And we pretty much have to keep up with them in realtime because when a turd of a comment has a chance of drawing dozens of responses in a few minutes instead of just one or two,
the thread can get wrapped around that mess before we’d even have a chance to see flags and go look at it in the normal fashion. ID: Have threads about crises changed in the time you’ve been a moderator? Has the spread of information changed since, say, the 9/11 thread? c: A lot has changed since 2001, for sure; on the site, we have a much, much bigger userbase, and on the web in general there’s clearly been massive, massive changes and additions to the information economy. In 2001 there was no YouTube, video streaming was a hacky joke, on-the-street consumer videography wasn’t ubiquitous or cheap, blogs were still fairly novel, etc. Since I started as a moderator in 2007, I think less has changed, though of course information sources keep evolving. Twitter was in its infancy at that point, whereas now Twitter updates are a common (if often problematic) source of incremental updates on developing stories. We’ve definitely firmed up both our technical and our pragmatic toolsets for administrating busy threads over the life of the site; in 2001, the “huge” 9/11 thread was tiny compared to our biggest threads now, by a solid order of magnitude, but we also had something like 100 9/11-related posts that September, compared to a much more concentrated “let’s keep stuff in one place” approach we try to take toward contemporary discussions of developing news or situations. You end up with bigger individual threads that way, but it’s one or two threads to manage instead of a dozen, and the site becomes less “Current Terrible Thing Filter” as a result.
ARTvsMarketing Emily Lubanko
1. “We need a cow.”
2. “When we talked to our sponsors, they mentioned that sex sells. Can you make it… sexier?”
3. “We don’t want to lose the woman audience, though. Can you add... girl things to it? (What do girls even like? You’re a girl, figure it out, show it in the art.)”
4. “Better… but now we’re losing our teenage boy audience, and they tend to buy a lot of our content. Can you add more blue1 elements to the design?” 1
Blue: a term used in some industries to indicate “ boy content” (instead of “girl content”).
5. “We’re almost there, but now we’re losing our older male audience—and really, that’s our target audience. What if there was a grizzled, hardened space marine with a hard heart and a devil-may-care attitude?”
6. “Also, we need to be mindful of future IP —please include drafts of a movie poster—“
7. “—and advertising. Why did you make the design so crowded?”
8. “That’s perfect! Why didn’t you do that before?”
The Physical Phases of Kevin Clark
Solid stress is in many ways the lowest, or home state of stress. We all experience a base quantity of solid stress in response to normal life or unanswerable philosophical questions. Some people have a larger amount of solid stress than others. Solid stress is frequently confused with the experience of “shitting a brick,” but that feeling is actually a species of fear. Sometimes, when a new crisis appears, stress can remain solid. In other cases new stressors will cause the stress to change state. Sufferers of solid stress are often predictable in their reactions, but those reactions can seem completely unrelated to the current situation, so this can be confusing for others.
FREQUENT CAUSES: daily life, mere existence, free will
Liquid stress arises when solid stress is sufficiently excited by outside forces. It changes shape to fit the container it is in (adapting to solve the problem at hand) but does not expand uncontrollably.
Sufferers of liquid stress are obviously under a great deal of strain, but usually they are both experiencing stress and actually accomplishing things. As a project moves along and large challenges are solved, the liquid stress sufferer will often seem less stressed. Instead of “drowning in work,” “being completely at sea,” or “swimming in an ocean of adrenaline,” they are more or less wading in cortisol. This tends to be easier. FREQUENT CAUSES: work projects, final exams, holiday planning
As liquid stress gets hotter and hotter, it changes not merely in shape, but in size as well. Gaseous stress expands to fill the space contained, and is commonly known as “drama.” The volume of stress is less connected to the problem at hand than to the amount of time in which one can panic. Gaseous stress fills all of it. Sufferers will frequently invent new and microscopic crises with which to fill the time. It can seem as if the gaseously stressed create problems where none exist. It is possible, with “special equipment,” to “chill out” sufferers and condense gaseous stress back into its liquid form. FREQUENT CAUSES: job interviews, weddings, blood tests
Plasma is one of the most dangerous phases of stress. Physical plasma tends to begin its life as a gas before being subjected to electric or magnetic fields, gaining weird conductive powers, and frequently glowing. Plasma stress will often “conduct” a problem from one individual to another who previously had nothing to do with anything.
Stress Sufferers have a surprising ability to make other people as stressed out as they are, and for as long a time as possible. They may appear to be trying to either gain attention or make others solve their problems. An outside observer may be tempted to absorb the plasma stress, rather than letting the plasma stress spread and cause more damage. Plasma stress is also commonly known as “drama” but with more vowels inserted, the number of which is proportional to the charge. FREQUENT CAUSES: spilling coffee on your interviewer, being dumped on your wedding day, blood test results
Non-Newtonian stress does not abide by the most common rules governing matter, and is not technically a phase of matter. Mix corn starch and water and you create oobleck, which becomes briefly hard when struck. Blood and toothpaste work in reverse: they become thinner under pressure. Other non-Newtonian fluids have similarly weird properties. Non-Newtonian stress was first observed in coyotes by Chuck Jones in the late 1940s. Sufferers are unaware that they are in any way stressed until someone points the fact out to them, at which point the symptoms of stress, much like those of gravity, can become extreme. FREQUENT CAUSES: faking a sense of calm in a new leadership position, hubris, reading the Acme catalog
bose-einstein condensate (BEC)
Supercooled fluids take on a phase of matter hypothesized by Bose and Einstein in 1924–25 but not achieved in the physical world until 1995. This form of matter is extremely difficult to manufacture and has some truly bizarre properties, such as zero surface tension, which means that a cup full of BEC also has a thin layer of BEC all over it. Also, BEC can slow down light. BEC Stress is incredibly rare. It occurs when someone’s stress is supercooled. It can seem like extreme calm, but in reality it poses great danger to sufferers and their possessions. When stress enters the BEC phase there is a dramatic transition, and instead of residing in an individual, a thin and frigid layer of stress immediately coats all people present. They tend to get very quiet and back away slowly. After the phase change has taken place, information, like light, tends to pass through the sufferer more slowly, and around the sufferer in whispers and on tiptoes. FREQUENT CAUSES: national tragedy, herding cats, many nearby people suffering from plasma stress (aka “draaaaaaaaaamaaaaaaaaa”)
the higgs boson The Higgs Boson, the particle which gives mass to matter, was recently proved to exist after decades of incredibly expensive research at CERN. A far less expensive research program has been seeking the root cause of stress since the 1960s, originally under the leadership of Jean-Paul Sartre. Their working hypothesis is that hell is other people. #24MAG 59
TRANSMEDIA CHAIN ISSUE 5
Edited by Casey Middaugh
I love discovering the emerging themes and unexpected directions that our transmedia chains take. Starting with a dry and benign bit of data, this issue’s chain ends up baroque, pensive, and rich in both color and emotion. We started with the gathering of the least ambiguous piece of data about our contributors we could think of: handedness. (As one of the two lefties, can I just say how much our extreme minority surprised me?) Lucia started us off graphically with some stylish hands. Next came Meg’s subtle, lyrical evocation of the data in “The Occidental City.” Jenny took Meg’s contribution and wrote a poem I adore, “Photograph of a Burning City.” Johanna launched off from that with her urban photography. Andy’s ornate and tragic poem, “Non Autre Volonté que la Sienne” inspired Emily’s striking illustration, which led to the culmination of this issue’s transmedia chain: Aida’s searching, cosmic modeling.
The Occidental City // Meg Grady-Troia
Kate was staring up the avenue. The sun was reflecting back and forth between the glass curtains of the taller structures, so that the light flowed across the whole street in waves. To her right, most of the city was massed, 21 streetsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; worth of people stacked over each other, woven into aggregates of brick, glass, concrete, and steel. To her left, two short city blocks separated her from the river that churned against the island, throwing up a haze of refractory water droplets. She adjusted her glasses with her left hand, hoisted her camera with her right, and left the view behind her, striding toward the setting sun.
Photograph of a Burning City // Jenny Williamson I wanted a candid photo, less than photogenic, more real than real, but this city is always posing. It has a million faces and of these any given hundred are turned toward you, ready for the close-up. It showed me a horizon chewed by skyline. It showed me a drowned carousel. It showed me a shipwreck listing down Second Avenue, boarded and shut. A home for the ragmen. But my photo at last was of myself, Sunken-cheeked and transformed, a ghost in my face that I recognized. I never planned to become what the city has made me. Never thought its uncanny Could wear on me so easy.
Nonautre // Johanna Bobrow
Non Autre Volonté que la Sienne // Andy Izenson
Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, spent the night before her death practicing laying her head on the executioner’s block. Dead girlqueen, seed pearls for teeth, whirling galaxies in her eye sockets, could not help but see the future. Teenage tears became tiny jewels on brick, vertebrae like the petals of a white flower, painted headdress and veil etched on a wall, impermanent as the garnet spray from her adorned neck hours after she begged to see the block. When she swore “No other will but his,” she didn’t know she meant decay, dried pigment flaking off under the gentle touch of the wind, plastic beads coming loose and scattering to the sidewalk.
Contributor Interviews Rachel Cromidas
I’m a reporter. Data is the both the bane of my professional life and its savior. At heart, my work is storytelling, and nothing tells a story better than people—messy, complicated, anecdotefilled, irreducible people. Anecdotes are not facts, and that distinction trips up some journalists more than others. But data can tell compelling stories, too. In fact, there’s a whole field of data-driven journalism emerging, and that’s probably the place where journalism has seen the most job growth recently. I say “probably” because I don’t have the numbers in front of me. I don’t even know how to go about getting those numbers. That’s the problem with data-driven journalism,
Rose Ginsberg I was thinking about the difference between quantitative data—not hard data, but research—and intuition. As a theater director, I had to learn how important it is to do the research into the show: the history of the play and the playwright, and the cultural and social situations of the characters in the play. There’s all this hard research about the story you’re going to tell. And then there’s also this intuition. If I’m watching the actors I might think, That moment didn’t work, I have to stop them and change that moment. But I don’t know why it didn’t work. I need to listen to myself and trust that as much as I trust the hard research.
——— Molly Macdonald In my professional life I’m a graphic designer, and I do a lot of packaging design and textiles. The products I’m working on, the patterns and designs, are influenced by what is selling well 68 #24MAG
for me. Whether I’m writing about job growth and decline in the news industry, or, say, the number of bike/car crashes reported in Cook County in 2012, I want to tell stories rich in numbers that come from official, reputable places. Sometimes I think I know the answer; beat reporting jobs are declining, jobs doing computer-assisted reporting and data visualization are the future, and Milwaukee Avenue is one of the most dangerous places to bike in Chicago. But how can I state this definitively without data, and what do I do when I can’t get it? These are questions that consume, drive, and hinder my work. But are other experiences different? I like anecdotes, so I asked the other #24MAG contributors to talk about the role data plays in their professional and creative lives.
and the current trends. On the one hand, there is sales data. The product managers I work with can say that red sells better than blue. On the other hand, there’s qualitative: what colors are going to be “in” this spring? There’s hard data, but there’s also looking into the future and making guesses. Right now I’m working on a bunch of holiday settings, tablecloths, kitchen towels and things like that. My boss was saying that red always sells better than green, so if you’re doing patterns, you want more red. Sometimes it’s really clean-cut like that, and other times it’s weird. It’s “Hey, we kept seeing this sort of thing on the runway, so can you translate that to a bottle of perfume?’
——— Lucia Reed I became a graphic designer and went very quickly into information design, which is about organizing data visually. Information design is anything. It could be an airport sign, it could be a poster
for a festival, it could be anything. It gets overwhelming, because you can apply it to so many different things in your life. I see data as information, and when I see information, I want to structure it and give it hierarchy.
——— Steven Padnick When I was an editor, we were very aware of sales data. We tried to determine how much you can spend on an author: the cost of paper, a print run, a cover, a marketing campaign. Now that I’m freelance as a writer, I have a steady gig at Tor.com that’s great and they like what I write, but I don’t actually get a lot of feedback from them, positive or negative. I don’t know what’s clicking, and it does sort of feel like making art in a vacuum. Data is important in a way I didn’t really appreciate until I stopped getting it.
What I like doing with my art is finding places of pain and making them bigger so that they’re visible, so they’re something the audience can interact with and identify with. Most recently in my professional life, I’ve been organizing houses. The more you work with people, the more you can start to predict what they’re going to be attached to; what you can push on more, and what you can’t. What people chose to hold on to says a lot about both what they find important and what they’re afraid of, and I find that really fascinating.
I’m a freelance copywriter, so I do freelance marketing writing for companies. The way I use data in my professional life really depends on the project I’m working on. In terms of marketing writing, sometime it helps to have data on certain demographics I’m writing for; there are all kinds of factors that influence the message. If I’m writing a promotion for a gym, and they have a clients from different demographics, and one of those is young professionals in their late 20s to 40s and they like yoga, I would make the marketing message different than what might be their other demographic, like people in their 60s. To me, data is a scaffold on which to build a message.
——— Ben Cordes The way that data affects my professional job is that I write a piece of software that gets used by users, and I need to know how they use it so that I can design it better. A couple months ago I made a feature for our website meant to track the route users take as they step through our web application. What we’re hoping to do very soon is go back and look at the last three to six months of that data and find out how people navigate through our website, and use that to drive how we might change the user interface.
——— Kate Donahue I work on a help desk, which means that when you call IT for support, you’re talking to me. We run by key performance indicators, or KPI, and those KPI are data about how many calls I answered, and how many calls I wrote a ticket for, and how many of those calls and tickets I resolve, and how many I send to someone else, and that directly relates to my performance reviews and how I’m going to get paid this year. It’s a constant source of frustration because it reduces everything. Did I spend 47 minutes on a ticket? That counts as one. Did I spend 2 minutes on a ticket? That also counts as one.
——— David Dyte I have a master’s degree in statistics, so I was always destined to work with data. When I moved to the U.S. I started working in advertising. I felt like suddenly I was doing evil, presenting data on what people think about gun companies and tobacco companies. It was data that I felt like I didn’t want people to know, to use to make their marketing better. Now I’m in media, in children’s television. What we do here is try to inform ourselves about what kids like, what they want, how they see the world, and how kids are different than they were five years ago. We use that to inspire the creative people. We tell them, “When you’re writing, think about these kids, not when you were a kid, not about your kids who are 15 or 20 now.”
——— Emily Kadish I talked about my data in the last issue. I have type one diabetes, which pretty much eclipses everything else in terms of data collection. I’m not a data person, yet moment to moment I need to be focusing on data. I can’t do anything creatively or professionally if I can’t have that in hand, at least to a reasonable degree. How is my blood sugar, how will it be in the next few hours, what do I need? I’m lucky in
that a lot of my numbers translate very directly into physical sensations, so sometimes I can “cheat” and say, “Oh hey, my blood sugar is probably high, so I should respond to that.”
——— Meg Grady-Troia When I was a kid I was really obsessed with origami, and participated in conferences and classes and published designs and spent most of my time creasing paper and folding it into designs. I have this very visceral memory of the first time I learned fractions. I was folding a paper crane in school, and my teacher came over and said, “if you fold the paper into a rectangle, what does that do to its size?” And I thought, I guess it’s a half now, cool. “So if you fold it then to a square, what happens?” I folded it in half again and thought right, now one of them is a quarter. Fractions suddenly clicked into my head. And sitting in math classes for years after that, whenever I’d get really frustrated I would just pull a square of paper out of my binder and fold it, and remember that moment of figuring out that numbers were related to the real world.
——— Ian Danskin I usually think of data as being anonymous information. You have to make something of that for you to tell a story. One of my jobs is, I do direct care with a 66-year-old autistic man. He has very limited language skills, but there’s this constant stream of information coming from him. So sometimes he screams, and I think, “Is he screaming because he’s petulant and wants to get his way, or is he screaming because he’s having a panic attack?” There’s no way for him to tell me, even though I have this constant stream of information from him. I have lots of anonymous data, yet I have no information.
I’m an illustrator. A lot of the data I interact with is people reacting with my work, imposing audiences on it, and using the realtime data they gather from those audiences to influence the direction it will go in. Say you’re sampling 100 people and your audience is 2 million, they’ll say, “Eighty people in our sample really like floral print, and I see you’re designing a gun, but I think it should have some floral in it because that’s what the numbers say.” My hackles tend to go up with this approach to data, because I’m used to people saying very, very broad things about an audience that may or may not exist.
When I started freelancing in 2006, I knew that I needed to manage my time, which is something I was traditionally very very bad at. So I created this spreadsheet to document my commitments, how much time I thought they would take, and how much time I had. And then I have a whole bunch of stuff for tracking how people pay me. Is it a flat fee? Am I being paid per word? How many words? Sometimes when I feel really lousy about my freelance life, I can take a look at this and see how much money I’ve actually made over time freelancing, and that cumulative income graph is great. It tells me freelancing is worthwhile and I can feel really good about that.
I’m a student finishing up my master’s in public health, so data plays a really big role in the work that I do. My training is in intervention design, so designing theory- and evidence-based health interventions that intervene at the individual and the community level. A lot of my interest is in looking for ways to increase and facilitate the use of data in health interventions. The people designing these evidence-based interventions are not necessarily the people who develop the evidence, and that can lead to misinterpretations, or a lag time in accessing information. And a lot of them are not trained in really being able to evaluate data rigorously. Just citing data doesn’t make data useful; it doesn’t make your interventions stronger.
——— Sara Eileen Hames Any role that data might play in my creative life is somewhat unconscious. I have deliberately in the last few months tried to focus on making things that excite me and that I can look at on a wall or screen and think, “Oh, wow this is wonderful.” I am trying not to think as much about how those pieces might sell compared to prior pieces I’ve made. Most of the data I’ve gathered in my creative life has been about how to translate art into money, which I think is the constant question of most artists. For the moment I am walking in this interesting and temporary bubble of not thinking about that, on purpose.
——— Andy Izenson
——— Johanna Bobrow I’m a biologist, so data is what I deal with every day. Currently I’m involved in human data sequencing, so I get megabases of data whenever we run an experiment. With my photography, I approach each photo that I take as data that influences my future photos. I say, “So that worked, that didn’t.” Everything is data—but then, the data is irrelevant without analysis. Data en masse without an analytical approach to it is almost useless. It’s as much what you do with the data as it is about gathering it.
——— Aida Manduley
As a human interacting with other humans, I feel like I have a sensory array that’s constantly gathering and synthesizing data on what sorts of behaviors allow me to pass as a normal human. There’s a part of me that’s constantly scouting, monitoring the reactions of the people I’m talking to, and doing course corrections to make sure that I don’t stand out, to make sure that I’m within the window of seeming normal enough to not be in danger. It spills into my creative life because I have to do the same thing with the reactions to the things I create.
I work at a domestic violence agency, so one of the big things I’m trying to change in Rhode Island is the way we capture data on same-sex partner violence, and LGBTQ data in general. The standard question we have to use is, “Have you experienced abuse from a same-sex partner?” A lot of people think that totally captures the queer community, but it doesn’t. We had women coming in who were bisexual or lesbians, but they were coming in from abuse from a man. So are we asking the right questions or not? I’m having to fight with a lot of people who think the system is not broken.
——— Max Hames I’m a commercial salmon fisherman in June and July. We use data to determine the best place to fish, and it directly influences the money we make. We use all the predictors and all the history of the salmon runs in five different districts in Bristol Bay to try to predict where the fish are going to show up next year. I love fishing because it is one of those rare jobs where the harder you work the more money you make, so using any data you can to inform these decisions is incredibly important. You need to try to determine how many people are going to fish in each district, how many fish are going to show up in each district, and how you’re going to get your share. But at the end of the day fishermen will just go by instinct.
——— Matt Obert I’ve been doing a lot of independent consulting, helping people with content frameworks like WordPress and Drupal. From my clients’ perspective, with each piece of content, each article or image, it’s like they just opened the lid of a box and chucked it in there. I have to look under the hood and think about how it’s actually stored in the database. It’s always a thrill when you
can see deeply enough into a system to pull out things that are sort of hidden or obscured. But it’s also been frustrating for me to attempt to explain to clients what I just did and why it’s worth something for them to pay me for it. In a lot of situations, clients will call me because the last designer who worked for them really messed things up, and then the site doesn’t work. Then it’s suddenly a horrible sadistic magic trick where you open the lid of the box and your toys aren’t there.
——— Alain Chan I’m looking to go into public health and social work, but I strongly, strongly do not trust the public health data out there, especially with regard to queer and trans* folks. I think it’s very easy for quantitative data to be manipulated, for quantitative data to exclude people. There’s a category in public health called “men who have sex with men” (MSM), and that’s supposed to be a behavior category in place of an identity, but that’s a really fucking confusing term. I work at a trans-friendly clinic, and a lot of trans women ask, “Do we fall into that term, or do we not?” So if MSM need a vaccination, do trans women need to be vaccinated because they are “biologically male”? Do trans men need to be vaccinated? What the fuck does that mean? I recognize data’s importance, and I’m also very suspicious of how it gets used.
——— Kevin Clark The thing I do most often with data is tell people to stop looking at it. I do a lot of things on the internet, both for my job and with my art, and I help a lot of non-technical people to make art and promote it as best they can online. Frequently they’re bombarded with numbers, usage stats, things like that, and they really want to do something with them. But what they really need to do is never look at Klout again. Ever. The numbers are tiny and what people need to do is keep doing good work.
POETIC DATA FIVE PERCENT OF AMERICANS NEVER MARRY It isn’t that I didn’t want it. It’s just that I kept giving my years elsewhere, a rootless thing chasing love across continents. Call it fear of commitment. Call it what you will. I used to believe that a One True Love was part of the package, something the universe owed me. Now I am halfway sure I will end my days in a rickety farmhouse full of back-issue literary magazines and piles of half-finished knitting. I am not afraid of this. I can think of worse ends than to wear one’s alone like a crowded city full of daylight.
SEVENTY PERCENT OF TREPANATION PATIENTS SURVIVED THE OPERATION When I woke they’d put a doorway in my skull round as a bone moon. The ghosts passed through me easily, trailing a terrible howling the way the wind haunts a ruin. It was not painful. Quite the opposite, this hole in the hull of my ship rimmed with stars— I could no longer tell where I ended and the sky began.
IF A GIRL OWNS ONE BARBIE, SHE IS LIKELY TO OWN SEVEN And when you catch her examining her body in the mirror compiling her catalogue of flaws exhort her to learn to love herself. If she cannot, this is another thing entirely her fault.
ISSUE 5 5.10.13 THANK YOU