Orin's hospitality usually includes a nautical component, and so it did again this weekend as he took a group out for a sail around New York harbor in perfect weather. Staten Island ferry, eat your heart out.
The event gave me an excuse to bust out my new Reno 911-style sunglasses (not pictured) that I received as part of my LASIK package (probably worth $5 on the open market, but complements of the establishment to patients... if you exclude the thousands of dollars spent on the procedure).
Fun fact: when designing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, "due to the height of the towers (690') and their distance apart (4260'), the curvature of the earth's surface had to be taken into account."
Fun fact #2: the lyrics to "Come Sail Away" by Styx are some of the worst in musical history.
The first time I remember needing glasses was at age 14, sitting far away from the chalkboard in a French class where the instructor insisted on calling me Michel, unable to read his wispy writing.
This same instructor once engaged in what I can only describe as a soft-spoken tirade against the use of "no problem" as a response to being thanked. It was an emblem of cultural decline, to him, that "you're welcome" had fallen out of favor. He was a perfectly nice man, but sometimes I half expected him to remove a monocle from his vest pocket, begin to polish it, and lament somberly the disappearance of door-to-door fresh whole milk delivery.
The illegible-Français incident sparked a trip to the eye doctor, who informed me that I was a tad nearsighted, and should wear glasses for long distance viewing. When I turned 16, this meant driving as well. By the end of my first year of college I realized a stronger prescription was in order and scheduled an appointment for the summer. Armed with my newly effective specs and having no suave reputation to lose (my mother had submitted my picture to the freshman facebook alongside interests of "computers, science") I donned them full-time with the start of sophomore year.
I can't really say I minded wearing glasses all that much, but then again it wasn't something to which I ever fully acclimated either. In the realm of my physical enhancement dreams, decent unassisted vision sat somewhere in a broad spectrum between "less wavy hair" and "urine of gold bullion". A number of solutions existed, but either I or the technology was too immature, or - since most insurance companies consider anything beyond contacts and glasses to be a cosmetic procedure - I didn't have the spending cash. I watched and waited.
Then almost without warning the perfect time came. While I'd been doddering about, LASIK had established a fifteen-year track record as a safe and worthwhile procedure for candidates such as myself. Several friends and acquaintances vouched thus. My eyes and my bank account had both matured modestly, and I was left with no excuses for delay.
So here I am 24 hours after the procedure (an example of which I recommend watching here, unless you plan on having it done yourself) one day into a months-long healing process with no side effects beyond a little harmless, if aesthetically disturbing, ocular bleeding (but hey - you can't make an omelette without a little subconjunctival hemorrhaging) and the knowledge of what it feels to have a tiny oscillating blade apparatus rest on, and slice through, one's cornea. As I understand it my vision will fluctuate in the upcoming couple weeks, but should stabilize at or better than 20/20. So if modernity brings a few "no problems" along for the LASIK ride, I think it's a fair deal.
And I was told not once, but twice that I have unusually big, beautiful eyelashes, so I'm going to remove that one from the physical enhancement list.
:: What he meant was: Coney Island is actually a peninsula
I think the last Siren festival I attended was two summers ago, but lured by The Rogers Sisters, Man Man, and Coney Island's olde tyme amusement park atmosphere (fun fact: I did not know what funnel cake was until college) I made the trek out this Saturday. I took some photographs.
You will notice amongst them pictures of the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, favorite objects of amateur photographers everywhere (Flickr: Cyclone, Wonder Wheel) mostly, I think, because it's hard to take a bad shot of bright red, white, and turquoise objects against a blue sky.
Incidentally, I can't see the Wonder Wheel without thinking about opening scene of The Warriors. A year ago this would have been one of those times where the two or three people who have seen the movie from start to finish (or played the recent video game) would snap their fingers and exclaim "Crikey! The Wonder Wheel! Neon-veined icon of sanctuary!" while everyone else would curse me for wasting their time, but nowadays through the miracle of YouTube, everyone may view the first ten minutes of the film (and/or a trailer, and/or a ten-second summary).
Denton's skills at media manipulation include a knack for pulling off stunts. In early June Gawker got the press on both sides of the Atlantic (New York Times, Observer) writing about its prank on Hello!, the U.K. celebrity magazine. Hello! had purchased pictures of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and their infant Shiloh for $3.5 million, and Gawker obtained and published a shot of the cover before the magazine reached the newsstand. Also, People had purchased the U.S. rights to the photos for $4.1 million.
Yes, the thrust of the article is that Nick Denton is a media savant (enough so to warrant a piece by a journalist on why other journalists like to write pieces on him), but this statistic shook me out of whatever naive bubble I'd been living in with respect to the economics of the paparazzi.
In this case the pictures were sold by their subjects and the proceeds were thereafter donated to charity by They Whose Double Helixes Leave Eating Disorders in Their Wake, but the sale was an open auction and the result would seem to be a market price. Also note that includes US and UK rights only - the worldwide total probably exceeded $10 million. To place the value in perspective, the average lifetime earnings of a college graduate holding no more than a bachelor's degree in America total just under $2 million (PDF link).
The repugnant behavior of some celebrity photographers becomes somewhat less outlandish (though no more morally excusable) as the risk/reward system is exposed. A fee equal to a few lifetimes' income for a single photograph can buy a pretty competent legal defense, a first-class ticket out of a town where you can't show your face, and a year-long open bar's worth of absolution. Thankfully there are still some of us around unwilling to part with their ethical compass for money.
On an unrelated note, for $10 million I can have your mother killed.
After watching the World Cup's end today I returned home to find that the patrons of my street's two bars had cordoned off the block and engaged in an impromptu soccer match. Even if one of them was playing in white linen pants and sunglasses, it was still awesome.
"Linked" is a nice, friendly, mutual relationship, not an assertion of causality. Consider how it might sound with "linked" replaced by various synonyms and some test subjects and objects swapped out for obesity and depression:
Jason Bateman related to Justine Bateman, or vice versa
Lambada connected to proscribed dancing, or vice versa
Weddings correlated with marriage, or vice versa
Pedantic grammar righteousness associated with searing boredom, or vice versa
I once again ventured northward to the Stauffer compound for July 4th weekend. Last year's set of pictures was the first taken with my new camera, this year's is the first with an upgraded lens. Common themes include drinking, canoeing, wiffle ball, cooking, chilling out max, and relaxing all cool. New to this year's set is the addition of several "Orin sleeps like an angel" candid shots.