Shared posts

24 Jan 00:47

Hereditary is the most traumatically terrifying horror movie in ages

by A.A. Dowd on The A.V. Club, shared by A.A. Dowd to Film
Matthew Connor

Whoa. Comparisons to The Bababook (which I thought was kinda lousy tbh) and the fact that it's A24 (which has been consistently disappointing lately in the art horror category) give me pause, but... Whoa.

I don’t scare easily. As much as I love horror movies, and have since I was young, they don’t usually shake me in any real, lasting way: “It’s only a movie” is always there for me like a security blanket, smothering any genuine panic. So it’s a special kind of awful, a rare treat of sorts, when something comes along…


23 Jan 15:48

Green Line low energy once more; commute yet again a chore

by adamg
Matthew Connor

I’ve been on the train for over an hour and I’m still three stops from work, send help

Yes, once again, the C and D lines are suffering those mysterious power problems that are slowing trolleys to a crawl.

18 Jan 13:48

Kylie launches comeback single Dancing — and it’s all about LIFE

by Popjustice
Matthew Connor

i need it nowwwwwwwww

Kylie’s new single Dancing premiered on Radio 2 this morning and it’s out tomorrow, but it leaked on Saturday and on the same day The Sun ran this headline.

Except, right, the song isn’t really about DEATH and dying, is it? It’s about life and living.

The line “when I go out I wanna go out dancing” (WHICH IS A VERY VERY GOOD POP LYRIC BECAUSE IT MEANS ONE THING BUT ALSO ANOTHER THING) does take into account the fact that one day all of us will make our way to the great bargain bin in the sky.

[This post was ready to go at 8am today based on the assumption that Kylie’s team would put the audio online following the radio premiere, which didn’t happen, but this is almost certainly where the embed would have gone]

But Dancing is (one would have imagined) unmistakably a song about what you do with your life between this point and that point. As the 0.57-litre-sized 1 ‘pop’ ‘princess’ notes in the song: “Everybody’s got a story, let it be a blaze of glory.”

There really aren’t enough heart emojis in the world for this sort of sentiment, are there?

  1. This epithet has been modified under EU metrification laws and will revert to its original state following Brexit, which is very much the ‘blue passports’ of the pop world

The post Kylie launches comeback single Dancing — and it’s all about LIFE appeared first on Popjustice.

11 Jan 20:23

Caffinated colons

by Shakezula
Matthew Connor

excuse me

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop — the company that takes money from wealthy women in return for dangerous things to stick in their orifices — is catching some well-deserved flack for hawking coffee enemas and a $135 kit to jet java up the far end of your digestive system.

Down the hatch, coffee can jump start a day. But, according to dubious advice from Gwyneth Paltrow’s posh lifestyle and e-commerce site, Goop, the popular brew can also kick off a whole year—when taken up the bum.

Yes, Goop suggests that a coffee enema is a “clutch” way to “supercharge” your “annual goop detox” and start the year in tip-top health. In its latest guide for “deep detoxification,” the Goop team recommends a device called an “Implant O’Rama” for squirting coffee up your keister at home. The product, sold by Implant O’Rama LLC for a bargain $135, is merely a glass bottle with silicone tubing attached.

Implant O’Rama, in addition to having a name that is almost as dumb as Goop, is one of those concerns that clearly knows the difference between what it claims to be selling

For its part, Implant O’Rama LLC claims on its website that coffee gulped from the glutes “can mean relief from depression, confusion, general nervous tension, many allergy related symptoms and, most importantly, relief from severe pain. Coffee enemas lower serum toxins.”

And what it is actually selling: An ass full of coffee. Just hand over the cash, and keep the lawyers out of it.

But the claims are quickly followed by a lengthy disclaimer that notes such claims are “not necessarily” based on scientific evidence and the company’s products are not intended to “treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease.” The company ends by stating that by “using this site for any purpose whatsoever… you are agreeing to indemnify Implant O’Rama LLC… from any claims or responsibility for anything.”

I do wonder how a coffee enema can relieve confusion. Perhaps after scalding his cecum the patient realizes the difference between his mouth and his asshole and is cured!

The fact is, using coffee enemas — brewed with raw water, no doubt — to supercharge an anual detox is one of the newer and less screwed up reasons people encourage other people to do this to themselves, or let someone else do it to them.

For example, there’s the Gerson Institute. In addition to claiming that coffee enemas can treat cancer, diabetes, heart disease and several other conditions that cannot be treated with any sort of enema, and MAYBE it’s OK for caner patients to have chemotherapy or radiation therapy in conjunction with putting dry roast up their rectums, Gerson also has the horrible ideas for home-made gifts.

If you’re a Gerson patient, chances are you’ve got tons of coffee grounds from all of those enemas. The most common approach to utilize spent grounds is to use them in the garden. This Holiday season, the gift of coffee is perfect to detox and treat your skin!

However, Gerson’s enema kit is far more reasonable; only $14.95 (no returns, please).

I think people who mislead people who are ill in order to support their stupid theory of health care — or simply for the money — should be treated with a ride on an old pine fence post. In part because the treatments themselves are dangerous, but also because they’re taking advantage of people who are scared shitless and not thinking rationally.

I could have posted an image of an online tutorial, but I was feeling merciful.



05 Jan 23:10


15 Dec 23:48

Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree: Vol I & II (A Vintage Holiday Mixtape)

by Satisfied '75
Matthew Connor

yay i always love these

Ah yes, go ahead and inhale the fecund ether of the season. Lit Up Like A Christmas celebrates the, er, other side of seasonal tidings — holiday esoterica from the far corners of vintage jazz, twang, fuzz, scuzz, r&b, blues, country, garage, lounge and beyond. And by beyond, I mean Sun Ra doing a Christmas […]
14 Dec 12:37

Heroes of the Resistance

by Erik Loomis

We should be happy from last night’s victory, but we also still face an administration and a Republican Party engaged in a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing. And while it’s nice I guess that everyday Democrats have taken on the mantra of The Resistance, which at the very least isn’t more hyperbolic than the defining down of the term “revolution” by Bernie supporters, there are people engaging in actual resistance at tremendous personal sacrifice. These are the real heroes of the resistance. Most of them we will never hear of. Here is one man I want to make sure we do remember.

After more than seven months in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center, a gay Venezuelan man who is HIV-positive, Jesus Rodriguez Mendoza, staged a seven-day hunger strike in protest of his inhumane treatment. He didn’t eat from Thursday, November 30, until late on Thursday, December 7, when, feeling desperately weak and finding blood in his stool, he decided to pause his strike. Medical staff also told him that they were going to start force-feeding him on the following day. Among his complaints to ICE, the agency that runs the El Paso Processing Center (EPPC) where Mendoza is housed, are discrimination based on sexual preference and medical condition, lack of access to necessary and life-saving medication, prolonged detention, and near-complete disregard from his deportation officer, who he saw for the first time only after he began his hunger strike. Besides the single short visit with his deportation officer, he has not been contacted by any ICE officials since he began his strike. If Mendoza doesn’t get notice on his parole petition by December 24, he vows to stop eating again.

On December 4, four days into his hunger strike, Mendoza wrote in a letter to his advocates: “In the first six months that I have been detained at the El Paso Processing Center, I have made twenty-five requests to meet with my deportation officer, Officer Valencia, and all have been denied or ignored. My two previous requests for parole have been denied and it is still not clear to me why.” His attorney, Linda Rivas, from the El Paso-based Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, helped him file his third petition for parole, which is currently under consideration.

Originally from Venezuela, Mendoza spent 10 years living in the United States, in the Miami and New York City areas, working in online advertising on multiple visas. He has also lived in the UK, has no deportations from the US, did not overstay any of his visas, and has never committed an immigration violation. In 2006, he returned to Venezuela, where he worked in IT for the opposition party’s presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles, who in 2012 ran against and lost to the late Hugo Chávez. Because of strong anti-homosexual sentiment in Venezuela, he mostly hid his sexuality, and struggled to treat his HIV. “I never got any medicine from the government,” he told me in a phone call. Originally diagnosed in 2002, while in Venezuela he received his medication from friends abroad. After a while, no longer able to sustainably self-import his medication, he registered to receive treatment in Venezuela, but was told he was not a priority; his health began to deteriorate. At the same time, he began receiving threatening letters, referencing the fact that he was HIV positive—he suspected them to be from government supporters—and was followed on multiple occasions.

Feliciano Reyna, the founder of Acción Solidaria, a Venezuelan nonprofit that helps HIV-infected people access treatment, explained to me that it was exactly in these years, 2012 to 2013, when the health crisis for Venezuelans with HIV and AIDS began, with severe shortages of anti-retroviral drugs, condoms, and HIV-testing agents. Reyna also described pervasive discrimination against those with HIV in the Venezuelan health system.

Fearing for his safety and his health, Mendoza fled the country, first to Mexico, where he worked on a visa, and finally to the United States. He presented himself at the Ysleta, Texas border crossing on April 28, 2017, and requested asylum. His attorney explained that he has a dual asylum claim—both political and based on his discrimination because of his sexual orientation—calling it a “viable claim.”

Mendoza described the bitter welcome he received when he first showed up at the US border. After requesting asylum and volunteering to the CBP officials that he was gay and HIV-positive, an officer locked him in a room and told a woman who was cleaning to “get out, because he’s sick.” He was closed into a freezing cold holding center for a day and a half—one of the notorious hieleras. As he was being transferred to the EPPC, they put a mask over his face, and when a guard asked why he had a mask on, the agent said, “He has HIV.” He has remained locked up inside the EPPC, with approximately 800 other inmates, with some periods in solitary confinement, for the past seven months.

There’s a time when the left would have not felt bad for Mendoza because he opposed Hugo Chavez, but I hope we are past that now. Here is a man trying to make a better life for himself and trying to do so in the United States, where he can live as a gay man without daily oppression and where he can get the treatment for his disease that he needs. For our fascist agencies such as ICE and CBP, this is unacceptable. For them, people such as Mendoza need to be ethnically cleansed from our nation. His resistance in the face of such oppression deserves our attention and outrage.

Of course, it’s hardly just a few people such as Mendoza experiencing oppression from these fascist agencies. It should hardly surprise us that victims of ICE also become victims of sexual assault. And let’s be clear, ICE agents are really, really, really pumped about their ethnic cleansing campaign. They love Donald Trump for letting them loose. It is for this that they are among the greatest threats we face in this nation.


13 Dec 15:28

C Line not so fleet; dead train at Washington Street

by adamg
Matthew Connor

Yeahhh I just had to wait outside 25 minutes for a train to show up and now I’m sitting on a train that has no heat and isn’t moving. Hope I still have all my digits when I get to work.

"Moderate" delays due to the froze-up trolley at Washington Street, the MBTA says.

08 Dec 21:50

THE TERROR Trailer: Ridley Scott's Historical Horror Series is SO my Jam

Matthew Connor

oooh i liked this book i hope this is good

AMC's new series The Terror, based on Dan Simmons' historical horror novel of the same name, will have a two-hour series premiere on Monday, March 26 at 9 p.m.

The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of finding the Northwest Passage. When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice.

But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the Terror on the ice stalks them [Continued ...]
05 Dec 17:04

‘A nice early Christmas present’

by humanizingthevacuum

Two weeks ago, I cautioned, myself more than anyone, my readers not to get complacent. Donald Trump’s candidacy included a couple of ornamental gestures toward bringing in gay and lesbian voters to the GOP as if their base would allow it (look at Roy Moore in Alabama). Less than two years after a majority found in the Obergefell v. Hodges case a constitutional right to gay marriage, the Roberts Court did the following:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a Texas ruling that gay spouses may not be entitled to government-subsidized workplace benefits — a potential victory for social conservatives hoping to chip away at 2015’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

In June, the Texas Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision favoring spousal benefits for gay city employees in Houston, ordering the issue back to trial. That was a major reversal for the all-Republican state high court, which previously refused to even consider the benefits case after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that the Constitution grants gay couples who want to marry “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

The Texas court changed its mind and heard the case amid intense pressure from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton, as well as dozens of other conservative elected officials, church leaders and grassroots activists.

They can marry, the Texas Supreme Court said, but they can’t share benefits, which is why most people get married in the first place, not too mention why citizens, gay and straight, work for municipal, state, or the federal government. This looks on its face like an endorsement of an equal protection violation. SCOTUS’ refusal to grant cert may not mean much in the long term if the Court is looking for the right sort of related case to accept, but I can’t imagine the wave of litigation coming.

05 Dec 00:19

Your Republican Party

by Erik Loomis
Matthew Connor

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” Grassley told the Register in a story posted yesterday.

Straight up moustache-twirling villain bullshit right here.

Orrin Hatch with that iron-clad Republican logic:

The lead author of the Senate Republican tax plan, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, said that the federal government no longer has the money to fund the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.

“The reason CHIP is having trouble [passing] is because we don’t have money anymore,” Hatch said. “We just add more and more spending and more and more spending, and you can look at the rest of the bill for the more and more spending.”

CHIP is an $8 billion program. The Senate bill passed in the early hours of Saturday morning includes $6 trillion in tax cuts, financed by $4.5 trillion in tax hikes elsewhere. Hatch, though, promised CHIP would still pass. “We’re going to do CHIP, there’s no question about it in my mind. It has to be done the right way,” he said.

But it’s not as if Hatch cares about these poor kids. After all, their parents are leeches on the plutocrats who deserve all the money. Their spawn probably will be too so screw them, might as well let them die early.

“I believe in helping those who cannot help themselves, but would if they could. I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves – won’t lift a finger – and expect the federal government to do everything,” he said, in comments that were shared by Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough over the weekend.

Hatch is talking about the poor parents, but really, what difference does it make? This is an attitude of robbing the poor to give to the rich and then blaming the poor for their own poverty. What could be more New Gilded Age?

…Meanwhile, Chuck Grassley, ladies and gentlemen:

After pretending for a brief moment in 2016 that the Republican Party stood for working people, the Republican-controlled Congress reverted back to trickle-down form on Friday when they passed a tax reform bill that overwhelmingly favored the rich. Not to be outdone, though, Senator Chuck Grassley made clear his disdain for those not benefiting under the new tax law.

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” Grassley told the Register in a story posted yesterday.

This is full-fledged late 19th century elite Robber Baron governance.


01 Dec 23:15

Control the Supply Chains

by Erik Loomis

When I read stories about the exploitation of children in global agribusiness, I get furious because they never get to root causes. This story about the widespread use of child labor on Indonesian palm oil plantations owned by a Singapore-based conglomerate is a good example. Amnesty International discovered the kids working, the Singapore company is now making claims it will stop that, but of course there is nothing really forcing it to. Nowhere in any of this is who is demanding such low-cost palm oil that children are employed to produce it. And that’s the industrial consumers of Indonesian palm oil. Some of those are in China and India, others in the US and Europe. What the global network of capitalists have done though is outsource so much and create such complex and opaque supply chains that they can claim no responsibility for anything that happens. Yet if the cost went up or supplies fell short, you can bet they would be deeply involved in the production process to increase supply or find new supplies entirely. They get away with see, hearing, and speaking no evil about their supply chains because we let them. If we don’t want kids laboring on palm oil plantations, we have to create legal consequences for the American companies buying that oil. That will go very far to solve the problem, once their bottom line and assets are threatened.

And I certainly realize that of all the horrors now facing us as a nation, not to mention the planet, the experiences of Indonesian child laborers are not very high on your list, nor do you think that there is anything we can do. In the immediate term, that’s of course correct. But if we don’t articulate our policy preferences with serious proposals, we will never solve the problem once we do escape this period.


14 Nov 14:43

Even the Worst Parts of America Have Lots of Great People

by Erik Loomis
Matthew Connor

Worth noting.

That Politico piece from last week about the horrible racism of Trump voters in Johnstown, Pennsylvania got a lot of attention, for good reason. But as we process that people today could say such terrible things, let’s also remember that there are lots of great progressives in Johnstown who are fighting with us against what we despise. And by ignoring them and calling a place like Johnstown “Trump Country,” we are marginalizing our allies.

Indivisible Johnstown, a progressive group that has held candidate forums for 2018 Democratic congressional candidates, responded on Facebook: “We are OUTRAGED that this POLITICO reporter and EVERY reporter who comes to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is only looking to tell a story of American Carnage. … Many, many citizens here are not misogynistic, racists like the Neanderthals in this article. They are working hard to make a difference.”

Mary Lou Davis, of Indivisible Johnstown, says stories like these are stereotyping Johnstown negatively. “There is such a media slant, and I am getting tired that Johnstown is getting portrayed that way,” says Davis. She says Johnstown isn’t only filled with racists and cynical residents. Davis notes that the night before the Politico article was published, Johnstown elected two African-American council members, both of whom are Democrats.

Davis says while Johnstown does have many problems typical of declining Rust Belt towns, it also has a lot to offer, like the well-established tourism and history organization, Johnstown Area Heritage Association. JAHA runs the popular Johnstown Flood Museum, a children’s museum and an outdoor music venue.

“We have a symphony, we have an art community, we host a national triple-A baseball tournament every year,” says Davis. “They painted with such a broad brush. The Politico piece just made us very very angry.”

This is fair. Forget Johnstown for a minute. In Alabama, South Carolina, and Oklahoma, there are also large parts of every community who believe in the same values the liberal and left hold. It’s not all racists. This is why it drives me nuts when people say, “We should have let the South secede!” Talk about Black Lives Don’t Matter!!! But even saying that blithely forgets that there are lots of awesome people in these places. We are a country together, Texas and Massachusetts, Idaho and California. That doesn’t mean we need to “find understanding with our opponents” or whatnot. But it does mean we need to include our allies struggling in the hard country while we are comfortable in Seattle or Providence instead of marginalizing them.


10 Nov 21:36

everythingfox: Watch for your own good


Watch for your own good

02 Nov 22:54

Cleveland Circle hotel to open in April

by adamg
Matthew Connor

There's about to be a hotel a block from our apartment y'all :O

The AC Hotel at the Circle, where the Cleveland Circle Cinema and the Applebee's used to be, should open in April, just in time for BC graduation season, its manager, Ronald Rockelein, said today.

Rockelein appeared before the Boston Licensing Board to seek its approval for the chain's plan to buy the liquor license now held by Chau Chow City on Essex Street in Chinatown.

The 162-room hotel is part of a project that also includes a senior-citizen apartment building.

20 Oct 14:53

The Snowman's main character is named "Harry Hole," and it only gets worse from there

by Katie Rife on The A.V. Club, shared by Caitlin PenzeyMoog to Film

If you were compiling a collection of the worst movie advertising campaigns of all time, The Snowman would have to be on the list. Any menace that might be gleaned from this dark, R-rated thriller instantly evaporates upon viewing the poster, which features a crude stick figure of a snowman who looks like he’s…


19 Oct 22:06

Our own haunted condo building?

by adamg
Matthew Connor

oooooh. i went to a party here with the drummer from Rasputina my freshman year of college but i did not see any ghosts i'm sad to report

Aline Kaplan introduces us to the architecture and possibly haunted history of the Charlesgate, a hotel turned dorm turned rooming house turned dorm again turned condos at Beacon Street and Charlesgate on the edge of the Back Bay.

The glowing spirits of horses that died in a flood have been seen on the ground floor where a stable was supposedly located. The building’s original plans show no stable on the premises, although you can have night-mares without real horses.

09 Oct 22:20

gameraboy1: Elsa Lanchester applying her makeup during the...


Elsa Lanchester applying her makeup during the production of The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

08 Oct 18:48

BPL hires outreach worker for homeless people flocking to Copley Square library

by adamg
Matthew Connor

Good! I'm somehow surprised every single time I go to the library by just how many homeless people are there.

The mayor's office today announced it's hired away an outreach worker from the Pine Street Inn to help the homeless people who have found the remodeled Copley Square main library as attractive as other users.

BPL is also hiring a full-time reference librarian specializing in health and human-services issues to help homeless people in the library, Mayor Walsh's office said.

Although new outreach worker Mike Bunch started work this week in Copley Square, the city says he "will assist patrons at library locations throughout the City in most demand." Until this week, the most visible library outreach to homeless people in Copley Square consisted of security guards roaming the library and waking up anybody they found asleep at a desk or table.

In a statement, BPL President David Leonard said:

The BPL is committed to providing all patrons, regardless of status, with the critical assistance they need, and the hire of the outreach manager is a significant "first" for the BPL and will connect library users with the right resources to help them move forward.

28 Sep 18:13

Don’t Call Moses Sumney an R&B Singer

by Editorial
Moses Sumney

Photo by Ibra Ake.

Moses Sumney wants to be real. His search for truth is a hallmark of his music, and he’s spent plenty of time exploring the shadows of his mind, getting comfortable with his own darkness.

“All the things you’re not really supposed to think about, like, ‘Oh, I’m going to die alone’—I think about that all the time,” Sumney says softly, strumming his guitar as we speak over Skype. “I’m just the kind of person that will go there. I’m obsessed with personal honesty.”

Sumney recently spent some time living in an apartment in London. It was either there or Asheville, North Carolina—a place where the woods, like the mountains in which they’re nestled, seem to go on forever. Asheville is Sumney’s favorite city in America, and it’s the place where he started work on his debut full-length, Aromanticism, a concept album that investigates an uncomfortable truth: What does it mean to feel loveless in a society that considers romantic love a primary reason for existence? In the rural stillness of the Appalachians, Sumney was able to disconnect from the world and connect with himself, in search of the answer.

“To truly feel solitude, I had to be someplace where there was no phone service, where I couldn’t actually go on my phone or the internet—because it’s not real if you can still talk to people, or if you can still check your notifications,” he says. “The first two days, I was antsy. Then it became liberating, because it’s like, ‘Wow, I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to answer to anyone. I don’t have to talk to anyone.’ I was thinking so much about things I never think about. My mind was activated, and I was going to places mentally that I don’t ever go, because I get distracted before I get there.”

When he wasn’t writing, Sumney spent his time drinking tea and reading—things like bell hooks’s All About Love, essays by Audre Lorde, and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts. Eventually, the silence became suffocating; “alone” inevitably collapsed into “lonely.” For Sumney, that was all part of the process. “I’m a fan of acknowledging spectrums, and solitude is a spectrum,” he says. “It’s maddening, and it’s comforting. Being lonely when you’re all alone is very different from being lonely in the city.”

Sumney is used to isolation, though. When he was 10 years old, his family moved to Ghana from his hometown of San Bernardino. In the six years he spent there, Sumney immersed himself in music-making as a way to combat his homesickness. Other than a brief foray in high school choir upon his return to the States, Sumney developed his talents in secret. It was only after he moved to Los Angeles at age 20 that he began going public with his gifts. He began performing around UCLA, where he was a student.

His 2014 debut EP, Mid-City Island, was a five-track experiment that revealed a willingness to let his heart lead his music. The EP’s longest track, “Mumblin’,” is an improvised assortment of lo-fi loops and snaps that crackle under his haunting falsetto. Even on these early recordings, Sumney’s writing shines, full of abstract imagery and emotional candor. 2016’s Lamentations further strengthened that foundation; Sumney’s  vocals and avant-garde song structures became more refined, but not at the cost of his commitment to his specific vision. He shared stages with the likes of James Blake and Sufjan Stevens, and worked with Solange on her acclaimed 2016 album, A Seat at the Table. But even though he’s found support from peers and fans alike, he remains dedicated to using his art to explore his own “lonely world.” To that end, Aromanticism—an album three years in the making—feels like his greatest achievement.

“We have a lot of conversations about identity, gender, and sexuality spectrums, but no one was discussing the romantic spectrum. I felt kind of left out,” he admits. “I had these feelings that had been prominent in my life for a few years, and I started looking them up and came across the word ‘aromanticism.’ I thought it was so interesting and under-explored, yet so relatable.”

Sumney took it upon himself to investigate that notion, interrogating everything from the political to the biblical. As we speak, he mentions that America will probably never have a president who’s single, and is obsessed with the union of man and woman that’s outlined in religious texts. As he started thinking about the ways society prioritizes romantic relationships, he was able to identify the ways it affected him.

But Aromanticism isn’t about disinterest. “It’s admitting that you still desperately crave affection, even if you’re not fully capable of returning it,” Sumney says. On lead single and album standout “Doomed,” Sumney asks, “Am I vital if my heart is idle? Am I doomed?” His icy falsetto thaws ever so slightly as he shifts his concerns from the personal to the theological: “If lovelessness is Godlessness, will you cast me by the wayside?” That dilemma—reflected in a video which depicts bodies suspended in tanks of water, unable to touch—is twofold: desiring what feels out of reach, and a sense of outsiderism that accompanies a life lived alone.

“[Our desire for love] is genetic. It’s innate. It’s social. It’s so many things. But it’s complicated, because there are many of us who feel uncomfortable with other people, or in the presence of other people, and that’s a hard place to be,” Sumney says. “The loneliness that comes with that—apart from it being it innate—is pyscho-social.”

That feeling of “other” extends into this music as well. Sumney says he feels “sonically alienated” in terms of his production style. There’s a constant push or pressure for him to make music that sounds more generic, or is more in the vein of today’s hits. So far, he’s refused. On Aromanticism, his songs bend toward an ethereal sparseness, translating his own inner emptiness into sound. For all their spareness, the songs on Aromanticism have a palpable weight; but the heaviness comes from the lyrics, and Sumney’s savvy use of silence. An early version of “Indulge Me,” which now consists of little more than acoustic guitar and starry synth, featured a piano line that was removed at the last minute. Sumney originally imagined “Doomed” with a horn arrangement, but his quest to embrace minimalism led him to cut it.

“I wanted it to be challenging,” Sumney says. “I only gave in to those moments [to go large] on ‘Quarrel’ and ‘Lonely World,’ because I am kind of a maximalist in a lot of ways.” The album’s creation was similar to the paradox it explores. Sumney primarily wrote in seclusion, but relied on a small group of outside musicians to help bring his vision to life. He logged a series of single-day sessions with collaborators—among them Thundercat, Matthew Otto of Majical Cloudz, Paris Strother of KING, Cam O’bi, and harpist Brandee Younger—before retreating back to the sanctuary of his mind. He says it was the most collaborative he’s ever been, but the final product still feels intensely personal.

“I think my discovery is that there is no one way to live,” Sumney says, “which seems obvious. But every normative structure we have implies there is only one way to live—that there is a golden standard.

“The search for love will be fruitful for many, but there are maybe just as many people it will not be fruitful for,” he continues. “Connecting with people is quite beautiful and meaningful, but I also think recognizing and acknowledging the inability to do that, and recognizing that isolation and loneliness is equally beautiful I think it’s hard to be honest with ourselves about that.”

At a time when displays of love—Black love, especially—are revolutionary, it’s just as revolutionary that an artist would reject the idea of romantic love. In his introductory essay, Sumney calls Aromanticism “process music,” as opposed to protest music. Even as he grapples with these concepts of love and loneliness, his greatest statement lies simply in the fact that he’s here. “The most radical thing that any minority could do is create and exist in a world that implies you shouldn’t,” he says. “I’m just chillin’, doing my thing.”

Briana Younger

21 Sep 00:35

Climate Change as Neocolonialism

by Erik Loomis

The reality of climate change is that a global disaster created almost entirely by rich white people in the Global North is going to disproportionately affect the poor of the Global South who had almost nothing to do with it. In other words, just like every other environmental disaster, from the cancer corridor of Louisiana to who suffers the most in hurricanes, the poor have to pay for the actions of the rich. In fact, it’s already happening.

Climate change effects are to blame for the increasing acute undernourishment of children in Kenya, the United Nations said in a report released in Nairobi on Friday.

According to the UN, the failure of the March-June long rains, the third consecutive poor rains since early 2016 has contributed an additional 37,000 children across the country below the threshold of acute malnutrition.

“Climate-related issues have increased food insecurity in parts of northern Kenya where malnutrition rates have doubled in recent months,” the UN report says.

The report noted that the country’s undernourishment affected 8.8 million people, accounting for 19.1 percent of the population.

It states that almost 370,000 children across the country now require treatment for acute malnutrition, including 72,600 who are suffering from the most severe form and requires specialized life-saving care.

“In four out of 17 surveys conducted in June and July, acute malnutrition rates were at least double the emergency threshold of 15 percent,” the report said.

The failure of the March-June long rains, following two extremely poor rains in 2016, have led to widespread crop failure, acute water shortages, and declining production of milk in years, which pastoral children rely on for protein.

The report further blames drought related migration, early child marriages and child labor to lack of food and water.

In other words, climate change combines with local issues to keep the global poor impoverished while the global rich goes on without caring. In fact, I’m just going to keep my car running for a few hours just to kill some Kenyan kids and show how white people rock.


16 Sep 07:16


16 Sep 07:13

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes Worth Making this Fall

Matthew Connor

attn pumpkin lovers

Because pumpkin recipes can often be so wrong, you need a list of when they are so right. A hit-list of recipes to have in rotation for peak pumpkin (and winter squash) season. Emphasis on dinner, emphasis on savory.

1. Pumpkin and Rice Soup - (101 Cookbooks)

Six ingredients stand between you and this favorite ginger-chile kissed pumpkin soup. Served over rice it makes the perfect simple, soul-warming meal. Get the recipe here.

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes worth Making this Fall

2. David Kramer and Hayley Magnus' Squash and Kale Salad - (Salad for President)

Use whatever pumpkin or hard winter squash you've got, cut into thick slabs. Kale represents big here accented with hazelnuts, pickled onions, and cilantro. Get the recipe here.

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes worth Making this Fall

3. Pumpkin Cauliflower Risotto - (Wild Apple)
A beautiful autumn risotto made with pumpkin, cauliflower, and sage. You can up the veg even more, and, on occasion I'll even boost a risotto like this with a good amount of shredded kale...(The site seems to be gone, I'll replace the link if it comes back)

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes worth Making this Fall

4. Incredible Squash Pizza - (Wholehearted Eats)
If you're open to alternative interpretations of pizza, this is a beauty. The "crust" is a riff on the popular cauliflower crust, this one made with pumpkin (or winter squash) slathered with a basil-spinach nut sauce, and topped with vibrant cherry tomatoes or other seasonal veg. Get the recipe here.

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes worth Making this Fall

5. Two Ingredient Fresh Pumpkin Pasta - (Wholefully)
Making fresh pasta when I have a lazy weekend afternoon, is one of my favorite things. This Pumpkin Pasta caught my attention. Get the recipe here.

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes worth Making this Fall

6. Pumpkin Miso Broth with Soba - (My New Roots)
Soba noodles in a pureed pumpkin soup flavored with miso and ginger. Top with lots of scallions, sesame seeds, seaweed (I like toasted nori, crumbled), and sautéed (or roasted) shiitake mushrooms. Or you can simply make the base soup and top with whatever you have on hand. Get the recipe here.

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes worth Making this Fall

7. Pumpkin & Feta Muffins - (101 Cookbooks)
These are a super interesting, hearty beast of a savory muffin. Packed with seeds, spinach, herbs, and seasoned with mustard, you can use any winter squash. Get the recipe here.

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes worth Making this Fall

8. Pumpkin, Spinach and Walnut Spaghetti - (Lazy Cat Kitchen)
If I can't be bothered to carve and cube an actual pumpkin or squash for a recipe like this one, I grab for a bag of frozen sweet potatoes. They're pre-cubed, and I always keep a couple bags in the freezer for lazy weeknights. Alternately, you might carve a number of pumpkins or squash on your own, and freeze any you wont be using. Being nice to your future self! ;)Get the recipe here.

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes worth Making this Fall

9. Roasted Delicata Squash Salad - (101 Cookbooks)
If breaking down a big pumpkin or squash fills you with dread, this is your recipe. A longtime favorite, it calls for thin-skinned delicata squash, and you leave the skins on. Tossed with a miso harissa paste, roasted and combined with potatoes, kales, and almonds. Give this one a go for sure. Get the recipe here.

Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes worth Making this Fall

Continue reading Fantastic Pumpkin Recipes Worth Making this Fall...
12 Sep 17:30

The B-52s’ Fred Schneider and Cindy Wilson Reflect on 40 Weird, Wonderful Years

by Editorial
Matthew Connor

We saw Cindy Wilson the other night and it was dreamy! Her new album sounds like it's gonna be great!


Fred Schneider and Cindy Wilson, 1990

As two-thirds of the boisterous vocal threesome that fronts the B-52s, Cindy Wilson and Fred Schneider are well-known for their expressive singing styles. Along with fellow vocalist Kate Pierson, multi-instrumentalist Keith Strickland, and late guitarist Ricky Wilson (who is long overdue for recognition as a 20th-century guitar visionary), the two singers helped craft one of the most distinctive sounds to emerge from the new wave era. Now, with the band still in full throttle celebrating its 40th anniversary (which passed on Valentine’s Day of this year), Wilson and Schneider also find themselves in the process of unveiling newly completed full-lengths on the side.

Fred Schneider & The Superions’ The Vertical Mind features Schneider’s hyper-manic persona front and center in a kind of pleasantly dystopian tiki/lounge/disco synthscape supplied by the core duo of Noah Brodie and Dan Marshall (The Superions). Arriving seven years after the group’s album of Christmas-themed originals, Destination…Christmas!, Vertical Mind sees Schneider keeping tongue firmly in cheek even as he gets edgier than we’re used to seeing him in the B-52s, addressing subjects like airport strip searches, lust, and…meatballs.

Wilson’s full-length debut Change, out in November, showcases her sensitive side against a rich, varied backdrop of futurist, electro-shoegaze psychedelia courtesy of guitarist Ryan Monahan, drummer Lemuel Hayes, and producer Suny Lyons. Both albums are the fruits of collaborations that have been simmering slowly for the better part of the last decade. Wilson begins a short tour of U.S. cities in early September.

We spoke with Wilson and Schneider from their respective homes in Athens, GA and Long Island via conference call. No surprise, they finished each other’s sentences a lot and broke out into laughter with almost every response.

You’re both in creative partnerships with groups of musicians who were already working together when you joined them. Could you talk about how you exchange ideas with them?

Fred Schneider: For me, Dan and Noah lived in Orlando at the time, and they asked me to put some words to some music they had written, which was very tropical—because we all like lounge music—and I just came up with something off the top of my head. Then, every time the band would go down to Florida, I would jam with them—sometimes with [pre-conceived] ideas, and sometimes spur of the moment. We got a rhythm going where we did our first EP, then the Christmas album, and now we have this Vertical Mind album. They do everything on ProTools, and we call it ‘three-dollar production,’ because there’s no budget. [Wilson and Schneider both laugh.] We’ve had Ursula 1000 and [Brian] Hardgroove from Public Enemy produce some of the new songs. It’s been fun.

Cindy Wilson: Suny Lyons has his own way of mixing that’s very modern. It’s been like a school for me to sit back and let Suny apply his imagination and his ears to the music. He came up with the sound of the record, this combination of psychedelic and electronic with French pop. He was very good about listening to Ryan and me and what we wanted in the mix too. It’s been amazing to watch the mixture of all these styles together, but [produce] a consistent album.

Cindy, talking to your husband [and one-time Ricky Wilson guitar tech] Keith Bennett to prepare for this interview, I got the impression that in the early days of the B-52s, the musical connection between Keith Strickland and Ricky was kind of the engine that drove the band—

Schneider: Well, I wouldn’t say that totally, because we all had ideas—

Wilson: What I think he meant was in the music. The first step was Ricky and Keith.

Schneider: Well, yeah, they came up with the music.

Wilson: But it was definitely all of us, in different stages.

Schneider: The music wasn’t always fully formed until after. We would jam on the lyrics, they would take those and put something loose together [as a structure around the lyrics], and then we would go back and re-arrange it. Things were never set in stone until everyone listened to everything.


L to R: Cindy Wilson, Ricky Wilson, Kate Pierson

On your new records, you both sound very comfortable. Your collaborators have created this background of sound that fits you both. How much do these newer partnerships hearken back to the way you used to work with Ricky and Keith?

Schneider: With me, none. Because I basically write all the lyrics and get Noah and Dan’s ideas for the music. Or they have ideas and I add onto them.

Wilson: For me, it’s very, very close. In fact, one of the things I love working with this new bunch of people is that it does feel like I’m working with Ricky and Keith as far as collaboration and, again, learning. It’s an effort where I get to grow, just like in the early days of the B-52s, when it felt like it was a growing spurt.

Way back, you described the B-52s as dada-ist, and that’s also the word you use to describe the Superions as well. How do you see what you’re doing as dada? Because there’s also that book of poems you did early on that inspired the first album…

Schneider: That’s where it’s from. My last year of college, I took a creative writing course and then I realized—because I was in forestry for the first two years and I switched to journalism—that I’d have to go to college for another two years. I did fairly well, but I just didn’t want to do two more years of college [laughs], even though I no career plans. So a friend of mine says, ‘I’m going to do this book of poetry for my final project’ and I go, ‘Boinggg, me too!’ [Wilson laughs.] The poems I wrote were very surreal and just, uh… odd. I had to read them in front of the class. This is Georgia in 1972, I think. Everybody but one person just sat there looking at me like, ‘What the hell?’ [Wilson laughs.] And the teacher even said, ‘I don’t understand any of this, but I know you’re serious.’ And I was. After a while, I really got into it. Some of the songs [off the B-52s’ 1979 self-titled debut album] came from lines from the book. I would jam with Keith in his basement on the spur of the moment. He would blow wind on a guitar, and I would sort of recite and sing. It’s surreal imagery. Things would pop in my head and I’d sing them and if I liked it, it would stay. Same with the band, all of us. We’d just start spontaneous and then start writing things down.

That poetry project was titled Bleb, poems based on overheard conversations.

Schneider: Yes. And then I expanded it to a book with Kenny Scharf’s drawings [released in 1987 as Fred Schneider and Other Unrelated Works; Scharf drew the cover art for the B-52s’ 1986 album Bouncing off the Satellitesed.].

So those poems were an inspiration to all five members in writing the first two records, correct?

Schneider: I think everyone read the book and liked it. I don’t know if it inspired them.

Wilson: I think we inspired each other.

Schneider: Yeah. We all had a lot of similar tastes. We liked a lot of the same music, movies. We had a similar sensibility about a whole lot of things.

And you all liked going to thrift stores in the middle of rehearsal, right?

Schneider: Well, yeah. The thing is, we had no money, so it was like 50 cents for pants, 25 cents for a shirt, and a dollar for a jacket, so—

Wilson: Also, we wanted visuals. We liked to shock people.

How much was the seersucker suit that Fred’s wearing on the cover of the first album?

Schneider: That was actually part of a Halloween costume that originally consisted of an [undershirt] and a broken cigarette and a penciled-in moustache. [I didn’t look that way because of a] hangover. [Everyone laughs.]


L to R: Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Ricky Wilson

The B-52s rehearsed religiously in your early days.

Wilson: Yeah, we definitely believed in rehearsal. They were unconventional songs, and an unconventional way to write. So we had to rehearse to learn when to come in and nail down the vocal melodies. They’re actually [challenging] little songs.

Schneider: The structures aren’t A-B-A-B-C-A-B-A-B and out. Sometimes they just take a totally different turn and just go… out [there].

So it sounds like just being in each other’s company was the motivation to spend hours working on the music.

Schneider: Well, none of us had really [good jobs]. I mean, I liked my job. I was the meal delivery coordinator for the Council on Aging for Clarke County—which was the most money I’d ever made before—but Kate didn’t really like her job at the local paper. Cindy had a fun job, but I don’t think it was well-paying. [Laughs]

Wilson: Well, no. For Athens, it was fine. I was a waitress at the luncheonette counter at Kress’s, which was like the center of the universe for Athens.

Schneider: It was. Peachy Burger Melts and pop a balloon for a free sundae.

Wilson: People would just come through that you knew. It was a parade of different characters. It was a really interesting and amazing experience. And at the end of the day, I would have an acre full of change, which was easy to survive on.

Schneider: Yeah, you could really live cheap. Rent was like 60 dollars.

Wilson: At the Taco Stand, you could eat for two dollars, and there was quarter beer night—

Schneider: At Allen’s [mentioned on the 1989 single “Deadbeat Club”—ed.].

Wilson: But it was really thrilling for me. I really enjoyed the band. I loved hangin’ out with everybody. It was a real growing experience for me. I was like 20 years old when we started—a baby, really. So it was all very exciting. I loved the revelations, everything that I was learning from everybody. And we were making people have fun and dance. It was a trip. And also, I met my husband at that first party we played [on Valentine’s Day, 1977—ed.]. He passed a joint to me or something. [Laughs]

His version was a lot more wholesome.

Wilson: Well, the point being that it was amazing. On that one night that the B-52s [played for the first time], I also met my husband. So for me, the planets were in a crazy alignment. Those have been the most important relationships in my life.

Fred, what was your first impression of Cindy?

Wilson: Hey, watch out now!

Schneider: Oh, [she was] fabulous! [Wilson laughs.] I kept asking for Ricky for years, ‘When am I gonna meet your sister?!’ And there’d be no response. [Laughs] Not that he was ashamed or anything like that, but it was just like [feigns eye-rolling tone], ‘Oh, my little sister,’ you know. But we hit it off right away.

How much did you have growing pains getting along? Because there were times where you would all live together to write, like after your round of touring on the first album was over.

Schneider: That wasn’t a good idea, to be honest.

Wilson: The time we moved to Mahopac, New York, there was just too much togetherness. We did it as an investment with the Warner Bros. money, but it was just too much.

Schneider: The old fart who lived next to us was suing us all the time—

Wilson: Because it was women and men living together and we weren’t—

Schneider: Yeah, god forbid individuals who weren’t married or a family lived together. And plus, it was like the middle of nowhere. You really had to drive to get anywhere. And it was known to be a not-very-friendly town.

Wilson: I know. But we wrote some really good music there.

Scheider: Yeah, we did.

Wilson: We survived that. To me, that was a lesson to learn, a life lesson. Keith and Ricky and I bought a place in New York [City] later. And Fred and Kate both found apartments in New York as well, so it became a much healthier situation.

Schneider: Plus, we weren’t very happy with management. That was a depressing thing about working. We were really ready to leave the management we had at the time as soon as we could. But it took six years.

Wilson: Yeah. [Laughs]

Schneider: That makes a difference. But living together was like The Shining sometimes.

Wilson: [Laughs] Well, it snowed [a lot] and we were kind of stuck in the house. There was only one vehicle.

Schneider: Yeah, we had this one van. It was isolated.

Wilson: My husband—boyfriend at the time—was living with us in Mahopac. It felt like, all of a sudden we’d left Athens and our friends, and we were plopped in a new space and it was all B-52s, all the time. Also, my husband started going out looking for jobs related to his field, which was in advertising.

Schneider: He had to [commute] to New York.

Wilson: I had to take him to the train station. It was 30 minutes to the train and an hour into New York or something like that, which was crazy. But we did it.


B-52s, 1978

In 1987, the B-52s appeared in the ‘Summer of Love’ public service TV spot for Art Against AIDS. [Ricky Wilson died of complications related to AIDS in 1985—ed.] Since then, the band has weighed in on various social causes. As the B-52s do these 40th anniversary shows and you kind of take the temperature of the country, how much do you feel like you want to address what’s going on socially and politically in your solo work? It feels like there are flashes of it, but how are you responding as artists?

Schneider: I think what we do best is, do whatever music we feel passionate about, and we talk about the political stuff in interviews and do benefits and things like that. We don’t want to write songs where we hit somebody over the head with a message. ‘Channel Z’ [from Cosmic Thing] is very direct, but it also just isn’t a downer.

You’ve always balanced social conscience with fun. Years ago, Keith Strickland said that the B-52s are a ‘party band’ first and foremost.

Schneider: Yeah, we want to entertain people, but a lot of our songs have hidden messages. Like, we knew about the Radium Girls, who would [moisten] their paintbrushes [with] their tongues and then dip the brushes in radium paint for radium dials [in watch-making plants]. And after a couple of years, their jaws and teeth were falling off and they were dying.

Wilson: There’s still a part of Athens [an abandoned watch factory—ed.] that’s fenced-off [after being declared a radioactive contamination site by the EPA—ed.].

Schneider: That was in ‘Private Idaho’ [on 1980’s Wild Planet].

Cindy, on Change, you’re embracing an outlook that’s more… universal, maybe? There’s a sense of all of us growing as people together.

Schneider: It’s very positive and ethereal.

Wilson: We hope so. It’s kind of a searching record and [it delves into] looking inward. It’s kind of playful at times, but it’s definitely [directed] inward.

I have to ask: There’s been a lot of speculation behind what the meaning is behind the famous ‘Love Shack’ line ‘tin roof rusted.’ [Wilson laughs.] It’s well-documented that the music just stopped and you just ad-libbed. But there’s an interview from a Georgia radio station where you and the host were joking back and forth hinting that it’s a reference to a woman’s time of the month. At least that’s the impression I got. [Wilson laughs again.] Can you set the record straight?

Wilson: I love all these stories that have revolved around ‘tin roof rusted,’ but actually it’s none of those.

Schneider: Keep the mystery going!

Wilson: [Laughs] So let’s just keep the mystery going.

Schneider: It isn’t anything like that. Let’s just say that when we were jamming I couldn’t hear what Cindy was saying, and she just heard me go, ‘You’re what?!’ And she was going on about a tin roof or something. [Wilson laughs.] You know, a love shack [would have] a tin roof.

Wilson: When we listened back to the tape, we thought it was a great way to end the song.

Mysteries pop up around all sorts of things you’d never expect!

Wilson: Exactly.

Schneider: Well, we love what people think ‘cause it’s like so off the mark. It’s like, ‘Where’d you get that?!

Wilson: I know! It’s very creative. And the audience becomes a participant in the creation of the song, in a way. We’ve hesitated to ever explain any of our songs, because we love their interpretations.

Schneider: I mean, who ever came up with ‘tin roof rusted’ being about being pregnant? [Wilson laughs.] When I first heard that, I was like ‘What?!’

Wilson: There’s probably a lot of wild interpretations to some of our songs.

Schneider: Well yeah, [lyrics] like ‘I’ll meet by the fur pyramid.’

Wilson: Oh, Fred! What about the backwards part that says ‘Your canary is dead’?

Schneider: ‘I burned my parakeet in the back yard.’

Wilson: [Laughs] What song is that!

Schneider: That’s on ‘Detour Through Your Mind’ [from Bouncing Off the Satellites].

Wilson: That’s right. There’s a backwards voice of Fred’s on that, which has probably prompted a lot of speculation, you know.

Schneider: You have to ruin your record to hear it.

—Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

08 Sep 01:20

Is there a limit to what can be pumpkin spiced? You'd hope so, but apparently not

by adamg
Matthew Connor

mmmm that sounds great. pumpkin spice haters need to shut up!!!!!! don't eat it if you don't like it!!!!

Roving UHub photographer Joseph Gugliotta Jr. came across this monstrosity in the Davis Square CVS today, because nothing says "fall is here" quite like pumpkin-spice menthol cough drops.

31 Aug 23:38

Driverless Cars and Sprawl

by Erik Loomis
Matthew Connor

lots to think about here, but i want to give a big DING DING DING to this: "I would warn anyone who thinks that not having to actually drive to work is going to free up their time that their employers are going to do everything possible to claim that time from you."

Concept 26

I have a lot of issues with driverless cars, primarily that they are being developed to throw millions of people out of work. With driving pretty much the last decently paid working class job that employs huge numbers of Americans, these cars may have a social benefit, but they also come with a huge economic problem that the proponents of supporters of them simply handwave away. The U.S. trucking industry alone employs 8 million people and that doesn’t count the many other driving jobs that will be erased, from forklifts to taxis.

At least according to one researcher, the widespread ownership of driverless cars may also lead to vastly more urban sprawl, presumably because people will be more comfortable living far away from work if they aren’t having to do the driving.

Autonomous vehicles promise a future in which passengers are free to use their time productively (working, for example). And they can park themselves (or be part of a shared pool) which saves yet more time in the morning rush. Coupled with faster journey times, the incentives to live further out of town will increase significantly.

There are both push and pull factors at work here: sky-high residential prices in most cities push people away from urban centres while healthy environments and green living pull people towards the hinterlands. The limiting factor in suburban spread is often travel time, either by public or private means. Driverless cars fundamentally alter the equation.

Existing planning policies are based on our current transport systems. Green-belts, for example, are designed to reduce urban sprawl by restricting development within a buffer zone around an urban area. However, the reduced transport times offered by driverless cars make it easier to live outside the belt while still working inside. So these loops of green are in danger of becoming a thin layer in a sandwich of ever-spreading suburbanisation.

Natural habitats being lost entirely or splintered into ever-smaller fragments have long been understood as some of the primary causes of species extinctions across the world. Renewed urban sprawl threatens to increase the magnitude of both habitat loss and fragmentation. These threats are well known among conservationists, but there are differences of opinion on how best to respond.

For example, eco-modernists advocate a strategy of “land-sparing”, whereby human activities are concentrated into urban areas and vast tracts of land are set aside for nature. There are many cultural and ethical problems inherent in herding humans into cities, but the near-term planning issues posed by autonomous vehicles will exacerbate the challenge given they will boost demand to live in “unspared” lands.

Alternatively, some conservationists advocate “land-sharing”, in which human communities redesign the way we farm and live so as to co-exist with wildlife, cheek-by-jowl. Autonomous vehicles pose significant challenges for either approach, by supercharging the fragmentary effect of road systems.

Whichever approach is taken, we’ll need to redesign existing systems and policies to take account of the increased range that driverless transport facilitates. This may involve new zoning laws to protect wider areas of countryside than at present. It certainly requires further development of green infrastructure, habitat corridors and “greenways”.

I had never really thought about this issue around driverless cars before. If it is easier to drive and faster, then it probably will lead to much more sprawl. I would warn anyone who thinks that not having to actually drive to work is going to free up their time that their employers are going to do everything possible to claim that time from you.

Generally, I think that driverless cars cause as many problems as they solve, as do most technologies. They aren’t going to lead to some brave new world. I urge anyone who is excited about driverless cars to articulate solutions to both the unemployment and the urban planning problems they will cause.


31 Aug 17:16


Matthew Connor

big mood

17 Aug 15:25

Racists get their rally permit; Boston bans all food and clothing vendors from Common on Saturday

by adamg
Matthew Connor

fucking ugh

WBUR reports city officials have granted a permit to white supremacists for a rally on Boston Common on Saturday.

Boston police are urging people not to bring backpacks, sticks or anything that can be used as weapons. Police are planning to have extra officers on hand, as well as barriers to separate demonstrators and counter-demonstrators.

The Dig has details on the two counter-protests being planned.

On Monday, Mayor Walsh vowed to keep the city safe and said he was urging any families thinking of coming into Boston on a nice summer day to continue with their plans. One thing those families won't be able to do, however, is buy an hot dog or soda or try on a T-shirt or ball cap, because the city Parks and Recreation Department has banned all of the vendors who normally ply their wares along the Common's main paths.

In an e-mail to vendors yesterday, a Parks Department manager told the vendors:

Per order of the Boston Police Department and the Boston Parks Commissioner there will be NO VENDING OPERATIONS ALLOWED ON BOSTON COMMON on Saturday, August 19th. No vehicles will be allowed on the Boston Common as of 7:00 a.m. and throughout the day as needed.

I do apologize for any inconvenience this causes, however, public safety is of the utmost importance to the City of Boston. Please reach out to me if you have any questions. As more information becomes available I will update you accordingly.

17 Aug 14:51

Hear Pinkshinyultrablast's Swoon-Worthy 'Find Your Saint'

by Lars Gotrich
Matthew Connor

Gah I just love them


After slimming down to a trio, the dreamy Russian shoegaze band is putting the finishing touches on its third album in three years.

(Image credit: Andy Hughes/Courtesy of the artist)

16 Aug 13:45

illyadarling: The B-52’s in Tampa FL, 1983


The B-52’s in Tampa FL, 1983