Gen X was never supposed to get older. But a pair of recent essays by Tim Carmody and Choire Sicha show that the
second third Greatest Generation is not immune to pivoting one’s emotional startup when midlife approaches. In The Iceman List, Carmody reevaluates 80s movie heroes and finds the more traditionally Reagan-esque characters might have had a point.
But today, in the 2010s, Top Gun is a treat. It’s as clean and shiny as a new dime. The cliches that later action films overloaded with world-building and backstory here present themselves unadorned, in all their purity. Cruise is just so charming, brimming with so much energy, it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t really know how to act yet. A bunch of Navy aviators singing Righteous Brothers in the bar looks like fun. Now that pilots, airmen, and aviators can serve in the US military openly without anyone asking who they sleep with, it’s super that Iceman and Slider might be gay. And guess what?
Maverick is kind of a jerk. Iceman is totally right about him. In fact, Iceman is right about almost everything. We didn’t notice this in the 1980s because everything about how the film is constructed tells us to sympathize with Maverick and hate Iceman’s guts.
My God, we’ve become Ed Rooney. We are eating it. (Well, Ferris was a dick.) Sicha started smoking as a teenager in the 80s but after quitting recently, desires to “make a senior citizen’s arrest” of his younger smoldering self, the Iceman to the Tom Cruise of his youth.
It’s like KonMari, except easy, because the only things you throw out are your cigarettes and your entire sense of self.
My friend Emily said she was happy for me, but wistful, too. The last smoker quitting seemed like another kind of gentrification. Now I’m gone, too, along with the gas stations and all the stores that aren’t 7-Eleven. But the emotional rent was just too high.
Quitting smoking is the khakis of existence. Quitting smoking is the Chipotle on St. Marks Place. I am totally not cool. I may as well be someone’s stupid Brooklyn dad. My hair is its natural color. Most days I’m just wearing whatever. I do yoga endlessly. What am I now?
I can feel this gentrification of the self coming in my life. As someone who watched TV and used the internet 23 hours out of every day for the past 30 years, I’m wary of how much screen time my kids get. All that TV in my youth probably wasn’t a good idea and the internet these days isn’t what it used to be, right? In a talk at XOXO last year, Hank Green said:
You have no obligation to your former self. He is dumber than you and doesn’t exist.
Ok! Pivot I will. Get off my lawn, younger self!
[We’re all adults here (or reasonably mature humans anyway) so I rarely feel the need to warn you about what you might be getting yourself into, link-wise, but this article is REALLY disturbing in spots. If you have young children especially, you might want to take a pass on this. -jason]
From Luke Malone on Medium, a story about a support group of pedophiles who haven’t and don’t want to act on those impulses, You’re 16. You’re a Pedophile. You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone. What Do You Do Now?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that most pedophiles first notice an attraction toward children when they themselves are between 11 and 16, mirroring that of any other sexual awakening. It can be a confusing time for any of us, but imagine realizing that you’re attracted to little kids. How do these young men and women negotiate that with no viable role models or support network? There is no It Gets Better for pedophiles. Are they all fated to end up as child molesters? Or is it possible for them to live a life without hurting children at all?
You may have heard a version of Malone’s story on This American Life earlier this year. Over at The Awl, Choire Sicha talked with Malone about his reporting of the story and how it came about.
People would eventually find out what I was working on, and the questions would come thick and fast: How did you find them? How can you stomach it? Why are you defending pedophiles? It was really telling about a person if they asked that last one. I get it, pedophiles get a bad rap and in many cases rightly so. But I found myself trying to convince people that there are plenty who don’t want to act and really want help not acting on their attractions. Which, side bar, would be a big ask of anyone. Imagine if you were told at 16 that you could never have sex in a way that was appealing to you, Okay, thanks, bye! There’s obviously a reason for that, but it makes no sense not to help them out. Anyway, most of my friends got it but a few were like, “Okay, but at the end of the day you have to put the kids first.” I would reply that talk of preventive therapy was putting both teenage pedophiles, who are essentially kids themselves by the way, and their potential victims first. It’s win win. But they’d think about it for a minute and reply, “Yeah, I get it, but we have to put the children first.” It was all very Helen Lovejoy.
Choire Sicha ponders.
But if New York City is better than ever — and we think it is — then why does it suck so bad?
The money, yes. And the cupcakes, and the ATMs, and all these apartments that somehow are in clock towers, which are all also just money. Among the young set, it’s newcomers’ parents paying up at our phantom tollbooth. There is now a class of New Yorkers with the luxury of not just money but also plenty of time. Once you got a crappy coffee at the deli or you didn’t get coffee. Now the city is a wonderland of delicious pour-over. Every day is choose-your-own-adventure when you’re not dying over the rent. Now there’s a substantial population who thinks New York’s a lark, or college 2.0, or an indie-lectual Rumspringa, a lazy not so Grand Tour before packing it in to get married in Dallas. Not to pick on the millennials: The olds aren’t suffering either. Now a vast number of them pretend to live in the city while gardening at their second homes, in the sweet spread from Germantown to Ghent to Kinderhook. The result: New York has fewer who’d bleed for her. Once the city was for people who craved it with the stridency of a young Madonna. The result was entertainment, friction, mayhem, disaster, creation, magic.
Oh ho, what’s this? Choire Sicha’s book is available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s called Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c.2009 A.D.) in a Large City. I don’t know what the book is about beyond that, but Choire wrote a bit about writing and publishing in his non-announcement of it, the book.
In response to some blogfight I don’t really understand or care too much about, Choire Sicha published a handy guide for determining whether you are on the internet or not.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you are on the Internet or not. For example you are almost always typing into a box on a series of screens on your computer. Because of this, there are whole sections of the Internet that are pretty sure they are not on the Internet, because, they are just boxes, right? You could be typing into anything, who knows if it’s public. This was true about LiveJournal for a long time. When you would link to a posting on LiveJournal, back in the day, you would get outraged emails about invasion of privacy. Because in their minds, they were just typing in their diary.
Former kottke.org guest curator Choire Sicha rails against the dirty filthy c-word. That’s right, “curator”.
Your metaphor is all wrong. More likely you’re a low-grade collector, not a curator. You’re buying (in the attention economy at least! If not in the actual advertising economy of websites!) what someone else is selling — and you’re then reselling it on your blog. You’re nothing but a secondary market for someone else’s work.
I got fresh Sicha content. Anyone buying Sicha? 2-for-1 Sicha for the next hour only. Free embedded tweets! I’m also selling links to @curateordie for a limited time only, act now!
Nice little piece by David Carr in the NY Times about The Awl, a small batch blogging concern owned and operated by Choire Sicha, Alex Balk, and David Cho.
“My friends keep talking to me about how they want to start a Web site, but they need to get some backing, and I look at them and ask them what they are waiting for,” Mr. Sicha said. “All it takes is some WordPress and a lot of typing. Sure, I went broke trying to start it, it trashed my life and I work all the time, but other than that, it wasn’t that hard to figure out.”
In today’s installment of Cooking with the Awl, Choire Sicha shows us how to make his famous Nonchalant Smoker’s E-Z Pie Crust. Baking has never been less precise!
3. Put something more than a teaspoon but something less than a tablespoon of salt in the flour. That is like “three pinches.” It doesn’t really matter how much! Saltiness offsets sweetness! People, who are animals, like salt!
4. Put about the same amount of sugar in the flour! Give or take! IT DOESN’T MATTER.
Choire also notes at one point that the crust “should look sort of gross”.
Oof, I so hate to go out here with a whimper rather than a bang, but I’m BEAT. The jig is up! The thing about not having a job is that 1. You will take any and all irregular work that comes your way, and 2. You then have to do it until it’s done, no matter what (“what” being “3 a.m.” or “dental work” or even “laziness”). Plus I gotta get up in the morning and drive to South Carolina. Hellloooo, Mr. Obama! Thanks so much to Mr. Kottke for letting me muddy up his rec room this week—it was a good reboot for me, and also it didn’t drive away all the readers, each of whom seems, judging from the inbox, particularly lovely and intelligent and amusing and polite. So yay you! Your reward is that your regularly-scheduled programming returns shortly.
Update: Thanks, Choire! Enjoy your time with Mr. Obama in SC. -jkottke
Fresh off his exit from Gawker and covering last week’s New Hampshire primary for the New York Observer, Choire Sicha will be handling a slightly easier, less glamourous, and potentially more spiritually rewarding job: editing kottke.org for the next week.
Choire has written for Gawker (on two non-consecutive occasions, making him Gawker Media’s Grover Cleveland), the NY Times, the Observer, and a host of other publications, but I remember him mostly from from the olden days of the blogosphere. He was one half of the tandem that wrote the now-defunct East/West, an early blog detailing the lives of two friends who live on opposite ends of the US. He’s also done a bunch of other stuff but I’ll let him share or not share about all that. Welcome, Choire!
For his last Gawker post, Choire Sicha pens a recent history of New York City, 2000-2007.
Over the last month, I have read the Metro section from each issue of the New York Times — starting in mid-2000 and ending with today’s paper. Here’s what I learned.
David Remnick may be the current editor of the New Yorker, but it’s much-maligned former editor Tina Brown’s team that’s running the place. Love the comments at the end…the Gawker audience is almost shocked at something that’s actually researched, longer than three sentences, and doesn’t contain any overt drug references. Choire, you keep this up, I might have to start reading the site again.