Tag Archives: New York Times

This Week’s Best Profile – M.I.A.

OK, someone else told you about it first. But you probably didn’t take the time to actually read Lynn Hirschberg’s profile of M.I.A. Please do:

Diplo said, “I made her sing.” He was a producer of her first album as well as “Paper Planes” and was also Maya’s boyfriend for several years. “Maya is a big pop star now, and pop stars sing,” he said. “For me, making this record wasn’t easy. In the past, we were a team. But Maya wanted to show us how much she didn’t need us. In the end, Maya is postmodern: she can’t really make music or art that well, but she’s better than anyone at putting crazy ideas into motion. She knows how to manipulate, how to withhold, how to get what she wants.”

What Maya wants is nearly impossible to achieve: she wants to balance outrageous political statements with a luxe lifestyle; to be supersuccessful yet remain controversial; for style to merge with substance. “If you want to be huge, you have to give up a lot,” Michelle Jubelirer, Maya’s longtime lawyer, told me. “Maya vacillates between wanting to be huge and maintaining her artistic integrity. That’s her dilemma.”

And then, a few paragraphs later:

“I want to be back in New York by May 3,” she said, staring out the window. “I’m invited to the Met Ball, and all my girlfriends say: ‘Oh, the Met Ball! I want to go to the Met Ball!’ ” The annual Met Ball for the Costume Institute is a yearly black-tie gala held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is co-hosted by Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue. “I’m going with Alexander Wang” — the fashion designer — “and I wanted to wear a dress made out of a torn-up American flag,” Maya added. Wang made a hand-crocheted, gold-metallic dress over a black leather bodice instead.

It’s mean, very mean. Maybe too mean. Just read it.

Here’s What Was In The Times Magazine 100 Years Ago

Namely, it was describing the rules of tag:

I. — Tag is a game in which three or more players try to touch each other, not for money, but for fun, and with their hands.

II. — It may be played by any child over two and under ninety who is strong in wind and limb, and who has the time to devote to it.

III. — The player who is appointed by lot to touch the others is called “IT.” He should be able to stand on his feet and run if he is to be at all expert in the game.

This comes courtesy of a delightful new blog, Sunday Magazine, which picks one article each week from the New York Times Magazine…100 years ago.

Bedrooms of Soldiers

Chances are you’ll recognize your bedroom among this collection of twenty, all of which belonged to soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan:

This is a photo series from The New York Times Magazine. The normalcy is devastating.

Writing Factory

I rather enjoyed the NYT Magazine’s profile of James Paterson, but the pictures were easily the best part:

All are clever. They’re here, along with the words, and the cover image.

Fix the credit card market

You’ve probably already read this story on credit and debit card fees. If not, here:

When you sign a debit card receipt at a large retailer, the store pays your bank an average of 75 cents for every $100 spent, more than twice as much as when you punch in a four-digit code…

“A dollar is no longer a dollar in this country,” said Mallory Duncan, senior vice president of the National Retail Federation, a trade association. “It’s a Visa dollar. It’s only worth 99 cents because they take a piece of every one.”

This is a bit beyond the blog’s purview, but we have a handful of economically-minded readers who might be able to help me with this (those who do not understand interest rate fluctuations are welcome to contribute, too).

I try to use my credit card as often as possible for a variety of reasons. I get rewards for every purchase (cash back, in my case). I don’t have to worry about keeping money in my checking account until the bill comes due. By keeping more money in my savings account, I make a very very small amount more in interest each month. If I can’t use a credit card – the case at my local grocery store – I prefer my debit card to cash for one big reason: I don’t want to worry about keeping cash on me.

But I do feel a small amount of guilt when I use a card at a small business (though, as a consumer advisory, know that those minimum charges at bars and convenience stores are actually illegal). But guilt, in this case, is not a big enough incentive for me to change my behavior.

So, my question: is there an incentive system that can be designed to both a) encourage credit/debit card use, and b) avoid hurting the businesses actually providing the goods/services? And what would be the drawbacks here?

The only idea that comes to mind is for the consumer, me, to pay some marginal flat rate to Visa for the use of my card (say, 30 bucks a year). If we can hope that businesses may then charge ever-so-slightly less for each item, because Visa isn’t taking a chunk, it would seem that the prices might drop accordingly to cover at least some of that fee. It shifts some of the burde to the consumer, but the consumer gets as much benefit from the card as the business.


The kids are alright

Kids these days, and their jerking. It looks a little something like this:

It’s worth taking three minutes to watch the slideshow. One, cause this jerking thing is pretty, as they used to say, fly. Two, because the slideshow is well put together. Colorful pictures. Self-created soundtrack. An eloquent narrator. Perfect.

(Hat tip Kevin A.)


The award for best Berlin Wall package this week goes to the New York Times, with its series of before and after photos:

Picture 1

It’s cooler than that screenshot makes it look. If you must read and look at more, I’d recommend Esquire on the art of the wall; George Packer on the wall’s replacement (gay clubs, among other things); Magnum Photos on East Germany well before the wall’s fall.