Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Van Life is Commodified Instagram-Ready Fake Homelessness for Hipsters and Seriously Someone Please Just Kill Me Now

A friend and reader sent me this rather long article from the New Yorker chronicling a not-so-new trend (with its own hashtag, natch) called #vanlife. Vanlife is basically what it sounds like: living in a van. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

Vanlife is a “movement” (RED FLAG). And in order to be a true acolyte of the van life “movement,” you apparently need the following things:

--Long blonde hair (male or female)
--A beard (if male)
--A remodeled VW van
--Six-pack abs and tan lines
--A six-figure job and corporate sponsorships
--Contempt for the rest of the suckers in the world who are chained to their desks like the poor, hideous, pale, fat losers that they are
--An Instagram account with a zillion followers
--Being totes okay with using tons of gas
--A good head for business and a zeal to commodify a “lifestyle”
--Zero shame
--Even less self-awareness

Now let me clarify one thing: it’s not choosing to live in a van when you could afford a house that I’m dragging here (although plenty of people actually HAVE to live in vans and would kill for enough money to rent an apartment without wheels on it).

It’s the conspicuous self-aggrandizement and self-satisfied thirst-trap of curating what you smugly perceive of as your holier-than-thou, heightened value system and “lifestyle movement” on Instagram.

But worse than that, it’s taking a concept that’s supposed to embody the return to a simpler life and a rejection of convention and fucking MARKETING it, which is probably the most simultaneously calculating and conventional thing you could possibly do, a.k.a., a full-throated bear-hug of stone-cold capitalism lurking behind a mask of hippie non-conformity.

At least no one will directly contract giardia from this trend like they might with raw water, although I can't guarantee it, and I can't say the same for sand fleas. 

But it begs the question: Why can’t anyone just fucking DO anything anymore without (a) stunting, flexing, and thirsting for the ‘Gram; and/or (b) trying to make money in the process? 

Like isn’t it ever enough just to do your own thing without trying to profit from it? Or is the whole world now “pics or it didn’t happen” and “money or it’s not worth it?”

I know what you’re thinking. You’re just jealous. You’re just going off this one article someone sent you. You don’t actually know anyone who lives the #vanlife. You’re not part of this movement. You’re a sad, sorry, fat, alabaster-white slob who uses a flush toilet and has nothing better to do than make fun of other people because again you’re a pathetic, impoverished, un-creative, 9-5 hater with cankles and a Netflix account who can't think outside the box and wishes she had half the online following of the most successful van-lifers who are not serial killers or child molesters.

And to all of that I say, right, right, right, right, right, right, right, and right again!


Here are the best parts of the article, which features a couple who is sponsored by a professional van-lifer COMPANY and are full-time Instagram celebrities. I read the whole thing so you don’t have to, but I’ve pulled the choicest bits. The bible says “judge not, lest ye be judged,” but the truth is ye ARE being judged, so by all means, judge away:

When the waves were choppy, the three congregated in the resort’s hammock zone, where the Wi-Fi signal was strongest.

Editor’s Note: #priorities.

King, a telegenic former business student, had quit her job at a Sotheby’s branch when she realized that she was unhappy. Smith, a competitive mountain biker and the manager of a kayak store, had never had a traditional office job. 

Editor’s Note: OMG! SUPES JELLY!

Huntington’s vanlife hashtag was a joking reference to Tupac’s “thug life” tattoo. “You know, it’s not thug life—it’s van life!” he told me. Six years later, more than 1.2 million Instagram posts have been tagged #vanlife. In 2013, Huntington used Kickstarter to fund “Home Is Where You Park It,” a sixty-five-dollar book of his vanlife photographs, which is now in its fourth printing. In October, Black Dog & Leventhal will publish his second book on the topic, “Van Life.”

Editor’s Note: No one wants to Kickstart your lifestyle brand, except lol jk apparently millions of people do. But THIS IS NOT GANGSTER. GET TUPAC’S NAME OUT YOUR MOUF. HE IS ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE! K Thx bye.

“So many people identify with the culture, the attire, the mind-set of surfers, but probably only about ten per cent of them surf,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to tap into.”

Editor’s Note: Of course you're trying to “tap into” something. Something with a routing number. Open the faucets and MAKE IT RAIN, BITCHEEZZZZ!!!

Attaching a name (and a hashtag) to the phenomenon has also enabled people who would otherwise just be rootless wanderers to make their travels into a kind of product.

Editor’s Note: Of course there has to be a “product.”

Vanlifers have a tendency to call their journeys “projects,” and to describe them in the elevator-pitch terms that make sense to potential sponsors.

Editor’s Note: Every “movement” needs a “journey” and a “project,” and has to sound good in an elevator! P.S. I grew up in a Bronx apartment building and I know what an elevator looks like. Where are the elevators in Big Sur?

The uncertainty of life on the road was a constant low-level drain at first, particularly for King, who discovered that she was afraid of the dark.

Editor’s Note: Does her super hot boyfriend read her Goodnight Van? Or does he just go down on her each night until she feels less afwaid?

GoWesty’s sales have increased fifty-five per cent in the past five years, thanks in part to the vanlife trend. The company now sponsors fifteen vanlife projects, including one run by a couple selling crêpes.

Editor’s Note: Mmmm . . . crepes.

“I don’t think of myself as an employee of GoWesty but more like an ambassador for their vibe,” Smith told me. He began to see that the time King was spending on social media might have a point after all.

Editors’ Note: 
 Let’s have a euphemism for everything so that it doesn’t sound like exactly what it is: another capitalist scam. That said, "Vibe Ambassador” is going on my resume. Stealing this!

His specialty was a dish he called huevos vancheros: eggs fried in coconut oil, seasoned with turmeric, served over buckwheat with salsa and sauerkraut. The couple bought things to make the van homier and more comfortable: a fruit basket, a travel bidet.

Editor’s Note: VANcheros. CLEVER! Power-wash them assholes on the go!

They began working more product placement into their Instagram posts. Since then, their sponsorships—which King prefers to call “alliances”—have included Kettle Brand potato chips, Clif Bars, and Synergy Organic Clothing.

Editor’s Note: Again with the fucking euphemisms. There has to be one for product placements too . . . "journey-mates," perhaps?

As the afternoon got progressively gloomier, Smith and King transferred their belongings from Boscha to the loaner van: two surfboards (bought at a discount from a sponsor), wetsuits, tins of red lentils and buckwheat, stacks of T-shirts and leggings (mostly from sponsors), a woven blanket (a gift from a sponsor), a hand broom, two yoga mats, three hula hoops in different sizes, a tool kit, a digital S.L.R. camera, and a bag of wheat-free kibble for their soulful, brindled dog, Penny. 

Editor’s Note: The three multi-sized hula hoops are a nice touch but the wheat-free kibble really crushes it. Even their DOG is named after money!

“They want to see Emily in a bikini, they want to see a sun flare, they want to see the van,” Smith said. “Ones of Emily in the van waking up with Penny, they crush it.” “It’s a naked female,” Smith said. “If I’m in that picture, it gets three thousand likes.”

Editor’s Note: AH! NOOOOW we get to the bottom of this, so to speak. It all boils down to making bank off a naked woman in a bikini. A woman dudes wanna fuck and girls wanna be. The more things change, the more they stay the same, my friends. So much for breaking the mold.

Advertisers work with people like Smith and King precisely because they’re not famous in the traditional sense. They’re appealing to brands because they have such a strong emotional connection with their followers.

Editor’s Note: Nothing is more easily commodified than people's EMOTIONS!

“We try to leverage the power we have as influencers in the social-media world to bring light to companies that are doing good in the world, that are creating products we believe in,” King explained. “We see every dollar as a vote.” They are sponsored by several companies whose products they use every day, including TruthPaste, which makes clay-based toothpaste, and Four Sigmatic, a “superfood company” that sells instant coffee enhanced with mushroom elixirs.

Editor’s Note: "Influencer" is also going on my resume. Clay-based toothpaste is totes gonna change the world, and so is coffee enhanced with mushroom elixirs. I hope they’re psychoactive because I need to hallucinate the fucking point of this bullshit right now.


Photo: Jeff Minton, New Yorker

Monday, January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King is Like, a Huge Inspiration to My Multi-Level Marketing Scheme

Have you guys been on social media this morning? I have, because it just so happens that I needed to check the status of my various wrinkle creams, scented candles, essential oils, baby books, health shakes, and cooking gadgets--both the ones I bought from my girlfriends AND the ones I sold to my girlfriends in my living room last night with like, so much wine!

So. Much. Wine. LOL.

And the first thing I saw trending was that today is Martin Luther King Day! And OMG. He was SUCH an inspiration. You can read all about him on Wikipedia but he was like, a seriously big deal.

ICYMI, Dr. King was the leader of the American civil rights movement and best known for his role in advancing civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. He won the Nobel Peace prize and was famous for saying "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."


If Dr. King were alive today, he would probably have this quote printed on a bumper sticker that he would stick on the Nutri-Bullet that he'd use to mix his chocolate protein Isagenix™ shake on his way to pilates. He'd feel SUPES inspired to stay on his plan of five small meals a day, three of which are shakes, one of which is a handful of almonds and half an avocado, and one of which is a sensible dinner low in complex carbohydrates and high in protein!

MLK also helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965, and notably said at some point in his career that "darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." 

But you know what else can drive out darkness and bring the light, is Scentsy™ candles, specifically The LOVELY smell of warm vanilla sugar lighting up your bathtub for some well-deserved ME TIME or maybe a romantic date night-in with your honey?! Hmmm? HMMMM??? You'd have to have like, ICE in your veins not to love the huge variety of colorful florals and scents available at Scentsy.

But one of MLK's BEST known quotes is "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." 

Good thing Rodan & Fields and doTerra Essential Oils are great for removing and healing blemishes on your skin so that your friends and colleagues can better focus on the content of your character without being distracted or put off by unseemly wrinkles or weird smells! 

When Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 by James Earl Ray in Memphis Tennessee, it was a national tragedy, and a good time to remember Dr. King's words: "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

And let me ask you what matters more than a 7 piece set of stainless steel cookware from the Pampered Chef?™ (That was a rhetorical question btw). So speak up and get yours from ME—your local Pampered Chef™ consultant TODAY—before they sell out!

It's 2018, and the best way we can honor a human rights hero like Dr. Martin Luther King is to emptily co-opt and use his inspiring words to sell crap no one needs.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Imagine Being the Person Responsible for the False Alarm Ballistic Missile Alert in Hawaii?!

Whenever I mentor young lawyers and law students, I always tell them one thing to help ease their fears: You're not going to make a mistake in this job that can't be fixed.

And by that, I mean that while it's very important to be diligent, careful, and avoid mistakes, lawyers are not surgeons and their mistakes are unlikely to physically hurt or harm anyone. Moreover, if new lawyers and law students are being properly supervised, any harm resulting from their inevitable mistakes should be small, since they should not be doing anything alone that could lead to a serious fuck-up.

The same cannot be said, unfortunately, for whoever is manning the switch at the Emergency Alert System in Hawaii.

This morning, Hawaiians were given a rude awakening when they received emergency alerts on their phones and TVs that looked like this:

Some 38 minutes later, they got an update that looked like this:

That's a long time to think you and your kids are about to turn into atomic dust. Hawaii's congressional delegation was all over it on Twitter, as you can see:

I guess officials are still getting to the bottom of this, wherever that is. But somewhere en route towards that bottom, Donald Trump was golfing at his club in West Palm Beach as this was all going down. In an era when nuclear war is an all-too-real prospect thanks to two giant toddlers who could annihilate us all with a tweet and not even feel bad about it for ten seconds, there's a pretty narrow margin of error.

If this was an intentional prank, someone is going to jail. But if it was an accident/human error (and from all reports so far it seems to be), it's almost worse. 

Like for real. Every human action from the smallest gesture of kindness to the biggest fuck-up on planet earth can be traced back to just a few people or even one person. So IMAGINE being the person who just realized that they highkey wrongly alerted an entire state in the United States of America to an incoming ballistic missile?!?

Like what is your thought process at that moment? I'm genuinely trying to put myself in that person's shoes. 

I mean, this is a SAVAGE tech fuck-up that will go down as legend in the history of savage tech fuck-ups. This is so much worse than accidentally copying the wrong person on an email thread or deleting all your contacts or photos or sexting your mom, which is, fortunately, as bad as it gets for most of us who interact with tech on the reg.

There is definitely panic. And then there's the realization that you can't take it back, even if you fix it ASAP, and that your career such as it is is probably over. I don't know what this person's job is, but a BIG part of that job has GOT to be not mistakenly broadcasting to 1.5 million U.S. citizens that we are under nuclear attack and then waiting 38 minutes to say lol jk.

If there was ever a time to use the phrase "YOU ONLY HAD ONE JOB," this is that time.

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Must-Read Thread on Haiti

I saw this thread on Twitter, and it was SO informative and compelling, I needed to share it here. (This is the first time I’ve ever done that).

It’s by Jonathan M. Katz, an American Journalist and the only full-time American news correspondent in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake, (the 8th anniversary of which, coincidentally, is today). 

Katz is also the author of The Big Truck that Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (St. Martin’s Press, 2013). 

I really learned something from this. I hope you will too.

Lot of folks, from the alt-right to @RichLowry, think they’re making a great argument in the president’s defense tonight by noting that Haiti and El Salvador are, in fact, poor. 

But they’re just revealing their own racism. Here’s why:

In order to do a victory lap around the GDP difference between, say, Norway and Haiti, you have to know nothing about the history of the world. That includes, especially, knowing nothing real about the history of the United States.

You have to first of all understand nothing about the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. You have to not understand anything about the systematic theft of African bodies and lives. And you have to not understand how that theft built the wealth we have today in Europe and the U.S.

You’d have to not know that the French colony that became Haiti provided the wealth that fueled the French Empire—and 2/3 of the sugar and 3/4 of the coffee that Europe consumed.

You’d have to not know how rich slave traders got off their system of kidnapping, rape, and murder.

You’d have to not realize that Haiti was founded in a revolution against that system, and that European countries and the United States punished them for their temerity by refusing to recognize or trade with them for decades.

You’d have to not know that Haiti got recognition by agreeing to pay 150 million gold francs to French landowners in compensation for their own freedom.

You’d have to not know that Haiti paid it, and that it took them almost all of the 19th century for them to do so.

You’d then have to not know that Haiti was forced to borrow some money to pay back that ridiculous debt, some of it from banks in the United States.

And you’d have to not know that in 1914 those banks got President Wilson to send the U.S. Marines to empty the Haitian gold reserve.

@RichLowry would have to not know about the chaos that ensued, and the 19-year U.S. military occupation of Haiti that followed (at a time when the U.S. was invading and occupying much of Central America and the Caribbean).

He and others have to not know about the rest of the 20th century either—the systematic theft and oppression, U.S. support for dictators and coups, the U.S. invasions of Haiti in 1994-95 and 2004 . . . the use of the IMF and World Bank to impose new loans and destructive trade policies, including the now-famous rice tariff gutting that Bill Clinton apologized for but has been a policy since Reagan, and on and on . . .

And you’d have to understand nothing about why the U.S. (under George W. Bush) pushed for and paid a quarter of the UN “stabilization mission” that did little but keep Haiti’s presidents from being overthrown and kill 10,000 people by dumping cholera in its rivers, etc.

In short, you’d have to know nothing about WHY Haiti is poor (or El Salvador in kind), and WHY the United States (and Norway) are wealthy.

But far worse than that, you’d have to not even be interested in asking the question. 

And that’s where they really tell on themselves . . . 

Because what they are showing is that they ASSUME that Haiti is just naturally poor, that it’s an inherent state borne of the corruption of the people there, in all senses of the word.

And let’s just say out loud why that it is: It’s because Haitians are black.

Racists have needed Haiti to be poor since it was founded. They pushed for its poverty. They have celebrated its poverty. They have tried to profit from its poverty. They wanted it to be a shithole. And they still do.

If Haiti is a shithole, then they can say that black freedom and sovereignty are bad. They can hold it up as proof that white countries—and what’s whiter than Norway—are better, because white people are better. They wanted that in 1804, and in 1915, and they want it now.

So if anyone tonight tries to trap you in a contest of “where would you rather live” or “what about cholera” or “yeah but isn’t poverty bad,” ask them what they know about how things got that way.

And then ask them why they’re ok with it.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Try Not to be a Dick When You Grow Up, M'kay?

Hey Little Dude,

I know you're only seven, but time is going fast. I’ve been thinking—and I’m not sure how much control I really have in this department—but maybe don’t grow up to be a dick, m’kay?

Lemme explain.

We’re in the middle of a bit of a cultural upheaval of sorts where male dickishness is being publicly called into question with new enthusiasm, and as your mother I kind of want you to NOT be a total fucking dick when you grow up, m'kay?

I worry about this, because obviously you’re . . . um . . . gender conforming and into performative masculinity? (see photo evidence below). I’ve given a lot of thought re: how to help you not grow up to be a dick, and read some pretty good articles on the topic, but I think a few concrete examples will help. I want you to come back to this quiz later because unfortunately, you might need it.

1. You’re in high school and have a smart phone with a camera on it. You:

(a) Take a picture of your dick and text it to a girl, demanding that she reciprocate with nudes.

(b) You do (a), and then show her boobs to all of your friends after class.

(c) You do (a), and put her boobs on Instagram as revenge porn after she decides she’d rather go out with someone else.

(d) You use it for landscapes, selifes, and poop memes.

Answer: (d). Sext whoever you want in an adult consensual relationship where there is a mutual bond of affection and trust, but for now don’t do that shit, m’kay? No good will come of it, I promise.

2. You’re hanging out with a group of boys and one of them starts bragging about making out with a “fat drunk slut” at a party last weekend. You:

(a) Laugh and slap that dude a high five and ask when you can have a turn with her.

(b) Ask to read all of the texts between fat drunk slut and the guy who allegedly made out with her.

(c) Say “dude, seriously? That is so not cool,” but laugh as you say it so he knows you’re kidding and won't think you're a loser "feminist."

(d) Say “dude, seriously? That is so not cool. Don’t say that shit. She is a human being and doesn’t deserve that,” and actually mean it.

Answer: (d). It’s never too early to start treating girls and women like fellow equals and human beings!

3. Your male soccer coach says you “run like a girl.” You:

(a) Vow to work on this, because girls are bad at sports.

(b) Take his advice to heart and suppress tears because this is a terrible insult and you’re not allowed to cry.

(c) Shout “NO I DON’T!” and storm off in a huff.

(d) Thank him profusely, show him an article about Alaskan track star Allie Ostrander, and then openly shed a tear because your coach is a fucking mouth-breather and you feel sorry for him.

Answer: (d): Some of the best runners in the world are girls! And some of the adult men you encounter are stupid AF!

4. You’re driving in a car with a girl you like. You:

(a) Insist on parking somewhere isolated and making out whether she wants to or not.

(b) See how much of her body you can get your hands on before she starts to squirm, because you need to report back to your friends.

(c) Pretend not to know her the second your friends show up because she’s not the hottest or most popular girl in school and your rep is on the line.

(d) Lean in to kiss her and when she backs away you politely say “hey sorry, no problem,” because you know no means no, and don't say anything about it to anyone because this is an intimate moment and you respect her privacy.

Answer: (d): No means no dude and your reputation is your character, not your conquests. You should know this by now!

5. You’re working on a group project for a class in school, and one of the boys keeps talking over a girl and belittling her good ideas, before stealing them for the final project. You:

(a) Join in because girls don’t have any good ideas.

(b) Tell the guy after class how great his idea was even though you know it wasn’t his.

(c) Do/say nothing, this has nothing to do with you.

(d) Say, “I don’t think she was finished explaining her idea,” and see to it that her name appears front and center on the project so she gets the credit she deserves.

Answer: (d) Boys and men need to speak up when they see guys interrupting girls or taking credit for their good ideas.

6. Your friends call something or someone “gay” as a slur. You:

(a) Agree and say “OMG yes. That/He/She is SO GAY.”

(b) Laugh because gay is gross.

(c) Make a dick joke.

(d) Roll your eyes because you are secure in your own sexuality and know and love many gay people. You tell the person that it’s not cool to use the word “gay” that way, and inform them that really, it’s fine, they can still be 100% straight and have a homoerotic thought or even experience every once in awhile. Really it’s totally normal and they need to get over themselves.

Answer: (d): Ending homophobia and toxic masculinity starts with you!

You can do this little buddy! I know it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

5 Office Potluck Contributions That Say "I Would Rather Meet a Grisly Sudden Death Than Be at This Thing Right Now"

Mustard: Mustard is one of those condiments that you don’t miss until you need it, like to dip some Little Smokies into at Anne’s retirement potluck. That said, if you bring mustard (especially French’s) to that shit, you might as well tell Anne straight to her face that you’d rather fall 45 feet into a glacial crevasse with no rope and no one for miles to hear you scream than be at her retirement potluck.

Juice: It’s hard to imagine a more lazy potluck contribution than juice, which no one ever drinks because it’s empty calories, except with alcohol. Unfortunately, booze is banned from the workplace ever since that awkward incident with Dave from accounting and the piñata last Cinco de Mayo. Regardless, by bringing a half gallon of Tropicana as your sole contribution to Tim’s 50th birthday breakfast, you might as well say you’d walk in front of a bus before you’d show up at this thing for more than five minutes.

Jelly: Depending on the flavor of jelly you choose—grape or raspberry—you are expressing only slightly different sentiments when you bring jelly to celebrate Sally’s promotion. Showing up with raspberry says you don’t give a fuck if Sally is making 3% more money per year, because you’d eat cyanide and die seizing and foaming at the mouth before you’d choose to acknowledge Sally’s burgeoning career. Grape, on the other hand, says you’d prefer to die by falling on top of a recently-sharpened Samurai sword.

Plastic Utensils: If there’s a lamer item to drop off at Ken’s going-away lunch, I can’t name it. You might as well tell Ken, “Hey, it was nice knowing you, but to be perfectly honest—and please don’t take this the wrong way—I would choose careening off into the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle with no helmet over making small talk with you about your future plans that IDGAF about while holding a paper plate full of cold quiche."

Teabags: Like with the jelly, your contempt for the office Christmas potluck could not be more plain by bringing teabags as your lone offer. If you arrive with the herbal variety pack, you’re saying that you’re Ebeneezer Scrooge and want to die alone after being mugged, stabbed, and left for dead in an alley behind a pub in Victorian-era London. If you show up with Lipton, the message you’re communicating is more like you’d rather jump headlong into a chipper shredder in the snow with only one leg of your rotting corpse sticking out, like what happened to Steve Buscemi in Fargo.

Image result for mustard image

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The NATIONAL ANTHEM Rewritten in Bigly Words Trump Can Blunderstand

ICYMI, President Trump blatantly does not know all the words to the National Anthem. If you haven’t seen it, you MUST watch the cringe-inducing video of him trying to lip sync his way through the Star Spangled Banner at the National Football Game in Atlanta last night.

The failure of the President of the United States to know the national anthem of the country he is “leading” and that every fourth grader knows by heart MIGHT be less mind-boggling and offensive, perhaps, if he hadn’t dickishly spent the better part of his first year in office dragging the #TakeAKnee movement and grandstanding about patriotism and the flag like he was the reincarnation of Betsy Ross herself.

That’s okay though. I’ve rewritten the first stanza (fun fact: there are actually four) so that POTUS can blunderstand and derpmember:

O say can you see, by my phone’s early light
What so dumbly I tweet with no credible meaning
Whose lame gripes alt-right stars will re-tweet with delight
All the cable I watch, is so endlessly streaming
And with Fox set to blare, my head full of hot air
Gave proof through the night that my marbles ain’t there
O say will my word-mangled Twitter yet rave
O’er the internet all day and nuke us to the grave?