In Search of Sugar Daddies

FYI there are some suggestive images in this piece as well as some mature language. That said, it’s telling a sad story that seems, to me, to be important:

Thurston Von Moneybags (not his real name) was scammed once by a girl in Houston. He had arranged to meet her so that he might size her up and determine whether he wanted to give her a monthly stipend in exchange for regular sex and sometimes maybe dinner. In other words: Was there chemistry? Was she blonde and blue-eyed, the way he liked them? Was she thin “but not anorexic, a shapely body, you know?” Could he talk to her? That was very important. It was a little important. It wasn’t that important. Anyway, she asked for money up front, and he sent her $800. She didn’t show to the meet, and that’s the last time Thurston Von Moneybags ever got hustled again. Now he meets the girls for lunch before he offers them an ahem arrangement, and he is very clear. He doesn’t give them money until their second date, when they’re in the bedroom, which sometimes feels bad, which sometimes chips away at his this-isn’t-prostitution line—Thurston was raised Catholic, after all—but what’s the alternative? Getting scammed again? I don’t think so. A thing you should know is that there are very few people to root for in this story.

Dinner and Deception

Via the NYT:

IT’S 4:25 p.m. I make my way through the kitchen, past the prep cooks, up to the locker room on the second floor. Getting dressed takes 10 minutes. That leaves 20 to get “family meal” before the porters break everything down. At 4:55, I’m ready. Lineup is in five minutes — “live at five.” I double-check my uniform, an expensive-looking suit issued by the restaurant, before I join the rest of the wait staff downstairs.

Lineup is our final meeting before service. The managers report on menu changes and our ranking on the world’s top restaurants list. Sometimes they test us. “Where did Chef get his first Michelin star?” “What kind of stone is the floor made of?” But tonight we just taste the new wine. A classic Burgundy: red fruit, rose petal, underripe cherry; med-high acid, soft tannins. It’ll pair well with the pork.

The dining room has four “stations,” each with six or seven tables overseen by a four-person service team — captain, sommelier, server and assistant server. As a captain, I’m in charge of my team. It took me eight months to get promoted to this job; some captains waited for years.

Six food runners also roam the floor, along with three managers. Two expediters — the “expos” — stay in the kitchen to decide when food leaves and where it goes. At most other three-Michelin-star restaurants in New York City, the system is much the same.

Beyond the Breach

Wright Thompson on New Orleans:

With the air conditioner off for filming, the only noise in Steve Gleason’s home is the breathing machine that keeps him alive. That’s as good a place as any to start a Katrina story, with the wires and plugs and tubes strapped to the back of his wheelchair, a life-support apparatus doing the heavy lifting for one of the most fervently alive people the city has ever known. The city has known its share. New Orleans treasures hyperlocal folk heroes: Soulja Slim, the king of the street rappers before the storm, shot at least three times in the face and once in the chest, dead in his black Reeboks; Trombone Shorty, who closed out this year’s Jazz Fest instead of Elton John or Lenny Kravitz; Chris Rose, the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist who wrote the best stories about the storm until his life unraveled and he found himself waiting tables. Gleason is that kind of hero. In the team’s first night back in the Superdome after the storm, he stretched out his arms and blocked a punt in the opening series of a Monday Night Football game. There is a 9-foot statue of him outside the Dome now, but the actual Steve Gleason is paralyzed, four years into an ALS diagnosis. Most people don’t make it past five.

“OK, I’m rolling,” the camerawoman says.

Gleason uses his eyes and an interactive tablet to highlight the first sentence of the text, one of a series of love letters to the city that a local nonprofit asked influential citizens to write on the 10th anniversary of the storm. Since he can no longer use the muscles in his mouth, he speaks through a computerized voice, his humanity blunted by a droning, syllable-centric machine. Nothing works but his eyes.

“Dear New Orleans,” he begins, and when he finishes reading the letter, one of his assistants, Lauren, wipes Gleason’s eyes and nose with a towel.

“I cry every time I read it,” he says.

Lauren stays strong in front of Steve but when she gets around the corner into the kitchen, she falls apart, slipping into a bedroom to be alone. It’s an ugly thing to watch someone fight a battle he cannot win. Living, then, is in the fighting. “No White Flags,” it says on the Team Gleason foundation’s T-shirts and wristbands.

Dear New Orleans.

No white flags.

Jorge Ramos Does Journalism, Journalists Attack Him

Greenwald:

One might think that in a conflict between a journalist removed from a press conference for asking questions and the politician who had him removed, journalists would side with their fellow journalist. Some are. But many American journalists have seized on the incident to denounce Ramos for the crime of having opinions and even suggesting that he’s not really acting as a journalist at all.

Politico’s political reporter Marc Caputo unleashed a Twitter rant this morning against Ramos. “This is bias: taking the news personally, explicitly advocating an agenda,” he began. Then: “Trump can and should be pressed on this. Reporters can do this without being activists” and “some reporters still try to approach their stories fairly & decently. & doing so does not prevent good reporting.” Not only did Ramos not do journalism, Caputo argued, but he actually ruins journalism: “My issue is his reporting is imbued with take-it-personally bias. . . .  we fend off phony bias allegations & Ramos only helps to wrongly justify them. . . .One can ask and report without the bias. I’ve done it for years & will continue 2 do so.”

My People, Black and White

From Dreher:

Gore Vidal famously said that he never missed a chance to have sex or appear on television. Me, I never miss a chance to eat in New Orleans. So when my literary agent proposed lunch there with the actor Wendell Pierce—best known for portraying Baltimore homicide detective Bunk Moreland in “The Wire” and trombonist Antoine Batiste in “Treme”—there was no way I was going to pass.

I was skeptical, however, of the lunch’s purpose. Wendell, a native New Orleanian, was planning to write a memoir of his family’s roots in south Louisiana and how the devastation of Hurricane Katrina renewed his love for the city. He also wanted to write about how African-Americans have always responded to hardship by making art.

He had read my 2013 memoir, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, and saw potential for us to collaborate. Knowing Wendell’s formidable reputation as an actor, I was flattered that he had read my book—and humbled that he thought it good enough to consider hiring me to help him write his own. So why my skepticism?

Wendell and I come from the same state and are of the same generation, but we grew up in different worlds. He is a black liberal from the Crescent City; I am a white conservative from the rural hills of West Feliciana Parish. How could we possibly have enough in common to work together? I figured I would enjoy having a meal with the guy, but it wouldn’t go anywhere.

We met at Lüke, the Franco-German brasserie just outside the French Quarter. Following the hostess to our table took longer than usual because everybody in the joint seemed to know Wendell and reached out to say hello. A New Orleans friend had advised me that Wendell is beloved in the city because he is friendly, unpretentious, and genuinely cares about the place. And here it was, playing out in front of me before we even sat down.

There were almost no women on Ashley Madison.

Via Gizmodo:

When hacker group Impact Team released the Ashley Madison data, they asserted that “thousands” of the women’s profiles were fake. Later, this number got blown up in news storiesthat asserted “90-95%” of them were fake, though nobody put forth any evidence for such an enormous number. So I downloaded the data and analyzed it to find out how many actual women were using Ashley Madison, and who they were.

What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.

Those millions of Ashley Madison men were paying to hook up with women who appeared to have created profiles and then simply disappeared. Were they cobbled together by bots and bored admins, or just user debris? Whatever the answer, the more I examined those 5.5 million female profiles, the more obvious it became that none of them had ever talked to men on the site, or even used the site at all after creating a profile. Actually, scratch that. As I’ll explain below, there’s a good chance that about 12,000 of the profiles out of millions belonged to actual, real women who were active users of Ashley Madison.

When you look at the evidence, it’s hard to deny that the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs. They were paying for a fantasy.

Ad Blockers and the Nuisance at the Heart of the Modern Web

From the NYT:

The great philosopher Homer Simpson oncememorably described alcohol as “the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.” Internet advertising is a bit like that — the funder of and terrible nuisance baked into everything you do online.

Advertising sustains pretty much all the content you enjoy on the web, not least this very newspaper and its handsome, charming technology columnist; as I’ve argued before, many of the world’s most useful technologies may never have come about without online advertising. But at the same time, ads and the vast, hidden, data-sucking machinery that they depend on to track and profile you are routinely the most terrible thing about the Internet.

Now, more and more web users are escaping the daily bombardment of online advertising by installing an ad blocker. This simple, free software lets you roam the web without encountering any ads that shunt themselves between you and the content you want to read or watch. With an ad blocker, your web browser will generally run faster, you’ll waste less bandwidth downloading ads, and you’ll suffer fewer annoyances when navigating the Internet. You’ll wonder why everyone else in the world doesn’t turn to the dark side.

The End of Walking

Via Aeon:

In 2011, Raquel Nelson was convicted of vehicular homicide following the death of her four-year-old son. Nelson, it’s crucial to note, was not driving. She didn’t even own a car. She and her three children were crossing a busy four-lane road from a bus stop to their apartment building in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. She’d stopped on the median halfway across when her son let go of her hand and stepped into the second half of the road. Nelson tried to catch him but wasn’t fast enough; she and her two-year-old daughter were also injured.

The driver admitted to having alcohol and painkillers in his system (and to being legally blind in one eye) and pleaded guilty to the charge of hit-and-run. He served six months in prison. For the crime of walking three tired, hungry children home in the most efficient way possible, Nelson faced more jail time than the man who had killed her son.

The Beauty of Wine Aged Under Water

From Vice:

It’s already hot when I reach the small port of the Saint-Mandrier peninsula in the department of Var at 9 AM. With no sign of wind and waves barely 12 inches high, it is the perfect weather for tossing the region’s wine into the sea. Or at least it is according to Jérôme Vincent, the director of the Ecole Nationale des Scaphandriers (National School of Divers), who is waiting for me in front of his inflatable boat, ready to embark on the open ocean.

For someone like me who hails from the Southeast of France, Bandol is like holy water. I wouldn’t say it fuels my life, but during the summer when the clock strikes noon and the crickets are singing, it’s a local tradition to open up a bottle of fresh rosé. Hiding a cargo of the stuff in the Mediterranean Sea with a team of divers, on the other hand, is a first for me in oenology.

The Late, Great Stephen Colbert

GQ:

It was early July, about nine weeks before the debut of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and we were sitting in his temporary office above a BMW dealership on the far west side of Manhattan. He looked very tired, and he was apologizing (unnecessarily) for rambling on in a way that was maybe a little uncomfortably overemotional. “I didn’t leave the studio until 2 A.M. last night,” he said. “Didn’t get to bed until three, and I’ve been traveling and just got here—.”

He’d been up late doing a strange stunt the night before, stepping in unannounced as host of Only in Monroe, a local public-access program in Monroe, Michigan, about forty miles south of Detroit. There was all sorts of pressure on their first show, he said. “First show! First show! Well, f*** the first show. There’s going to be 202 this year—how do you do a first one? So I just wanted to go do a show someplace. And now we’ve done it.”

The idea was to do Only in Monroe more or less as it always is—same production values, same set and graphics and crew—just a ton more jokes. His first guests were the show’s regular hosts, Michelle Bowman and (former Miss America) Kaye Lani Rae Rafko Wilson. (Colbert on-air: “I’m not sure how many people that is.”) He did Monroe news and the Monroe calendar, and about twenty minutes in, he brought out his next guest, “a local Michigander who is making a name for himself in the competitive world of music, Marshall Mathers.”