My not-so-distant past life involved a lot of retail drone work in a variety of different places, most inexplicably at Ann Taylor Loft. In contrast to the store’s overwhelmingly blah aesthetic, ATL had a very complicated selling strategy that every new employee was forced to be trained on at length. One of the tricks I learned from the hours of instructional videos that I digested while hunched over a tiny television monitor in the backstock room was something the company referred to as a “Passby”. The Passby consisted of walking past an unsuspecting customer, stopping briefly to point out an “interesting” fact about whatever garment they were inspecting (“Did you know that blouse is 100% silk?”), and then continuing on your way as if you were some knowlegeable saint spreading the gospel of fabric quality. This technique was supposed to subtly convince the dumb customer that whatever stupid thing they were considering was worth buying.
My managers were nuts about Passbys and constantly suggested possible ones to use about new merchandise. The worst one by far was for this hideous cream cowl neck sweater that we were supposed to tell shoppers could go “from day to evening” if they just pulled the cowl neck down off the shoulders (and, presumably, if you pulled your bra straps to side as well? Who wears a sweater without a bra?) “From day to evening” became a favorite in-joke with all the sales associates and the endless jokes we made about it helped a little to assauge the crushing boredom we faced every day at such a tedious job.
Passbys are the flair of retail.
Related: I think I still have my Urban Outfitters Employee Manual lying around somewhere. Sadly I do not still have the personality test they administered to me pre-employment or any of my pay stubs, which would have been proof of the $5.15 an hour I got paid.
God, it’s just like, really? I have never been more interested in starting that utopian women’s commune in Topanga or wherever they were going to do it. Remember when Ruth shows up, all ready to go, and all the other ladies are like, Oh honey.
I sort of feel like Ruth right now. DOESN’T ANYONE WANT ANY MACARONI SALAD?
The problem, I often find, with young “cool” male teachers of either high school English or “social studies” is that they get so much mileage out of being one of the few males in the profession that they develop a bit of a God complex, which, to be fair, is an affliction that high school teachers of either gender are susceptible to. But with dudes it’s worse.*
* This has been confirmed anecdotally by Friends in the Profession.
Does Vimeo always take so damn long to process/convert videos uploaded to Tumblr? It’s been almost two hours! Anyone else have this experience? Should I have uploaded to Vimeo first and then embedded instead of trying to upload from within Tumblr?
When we were in LA last week we went to see Sam’s friend’s band City of Progress perform at Echo Curio. A band called My Flag Is On Fire, who are from Reno, opened. And they were awesome. This is a song, “Tiny Machines,” from the new self-produced album I bought after the show.
I don’t pretend to write about music anymore but they had a sort of Beirut-ish vibe to them. But better.
Tom Scocca: If there’s no other way to get provisions, it’s not looting. Tom Scocca: This was also how it went with Katrina, right? Reports of rampant, scary violence. To go with the “looting.” Choire Sicha: Black people running in the night! Choire Sicha: WITH THEIR BAGS OF RICE. Choire Sicha: THAT THEY CAN COOK IN WATER POLLUTED WITH DEAD BODIES.
Fishbowl NY “reports” that I am returning to Gawker, “confirmed” by Gabriel Snyder’s Twitter. Which, you know, fine—I don’t really consider it news but that’s a matter of opinion. But then:
“Could these decisions to return to the blog have anything to do with Gawker’s recent decision to offer its writers full-time employment and benefits?”
Well, gee, I can think of a couple ways to figure that out. Like email me and ask! Because I would have said “no,” because I’m not going back full-time.
Before everyone gets too excited! I’m going back to Gawker as a two-day-a-week contributor. I will be writing about subjects to be determined but my mandate is to do “original reporting,” which might mean that the story of the next Hipster Grifter actually gets written on Gawker in the first place!
So, I was out in Las Vegas for the CityCenter opening. One day of the three-day festivities was plenty, thankyouverymuch. The entire project, which was finished only when Dubai World sued MGM to complete it after MGM tried to pull out, is staggeringly unnecessary. It’s like visiting the home of a couple that remains married because it’s too expensive to be divorced.
It’s a monument to a pre-Goldman-Sachs-blood-funnel way of thinking: Walk through the Daniel Libeskind-designed Crystals Mall to the Tom Ford and Lanvin stores! Oh right, that’s not a thing that people do anymore, unless they really, really need a $5,000 paisely smoking jacket. (Don’t we all?) The Libeskind design of the mall doesn’t look stark, it looks like they haven’t finished building or decorating it, thanks to the huge empty white spaces.
I also visited the nightclubs in the project. At “Haze”, the owners were sending the busboys on speed trials, wherein they had to carry buckets of ice and bottles in a dark, smoky simulated club night environment, and then yelled at them for their mistakes. “Where’s your petit four tray? What the FUCK are you thinking?” Presumably, repeated petit four tray failures would lead to the employee being loaded on the next bus to Juarez. By the way, Vegas’ unemployment rate, officially, is at 13 percent.
Still, the people are coming. I rode in the elevator of the Wynn Tower Suites with a young Nigerian man casually leafing through approximately $8,000 worth of $100 bills on my last night. Then, I went to an early evening meeting with a manager at Blush, they Wynn’s nightclub, so he could give a co-worker the exclusive on the name of the Encore’s upcoming nightclub (“it’s going to push the envelope of sexiness”). I started the walk back to my room at Treasure Island. Outside Blush, young girls in over-leveraged tops and boys shoehorned into Ed Hardy shirts were begging to be let in, even though the club was empty.
Going to Vegas in January. Can’t wait. Sounds apocalyptic.
these people really NEVER go anywhere without each other?
listen, my parents are inseparable. they dont do anything without each other either. but thats because my mother and my father are each other’s best friends. and since they got married its just been them (because they MOVED so much it was tough for them to establish circles of friends)
HOWEVER on the rare occasions that the opportunity arose for my mom to go away with some of the other moms she knew in tokyo or for my dad to go golfing or hiking with the dudez, they each jumped at the opportunity to get away and have seperate time, you know?
i mean, how little TRUST must exist in these “perfect marriages” for the men to be so worried about the ladies going off on their own. unless JGH is right and this shit is 100% scripted.
I also love that we found out tonight that Alexis started getting Botox (because God told her to obvs) at 27. And her boobs are like the size of my head but it’s all good because they are GOD FEARING CHRISTIANS and they don’t let the devil into their lives. At least her daughters were like, stop taking us to Happy Nail we are only two years old? And ALSO also, Alexis’s daughter is named Melania… JUST LIKE TERESA’S from RHONJ. T and A (see what I did there?) are not dissimilar… their husbands are both super controlling and they are both sort of… how do you say. NOT SMART? And they’re just like, la la la, I look good for my husband because he buys me baubles and bubbies and I don’t need to have a mind of my own, that’s GROSS (like living in a house someone else has lived in).
Thank you Tumblr! I am 99% sure it was that horrible, annoying, why-would-anyone-in-their-right-minds-want-it-to-default-to-it shake to shuffle setting that I didn’t even know existed until Maura pointed it out! Seriously that needs to change, like now.
I’m having a problem with the iPod on my iPhone that is starting to drive me crazy.
When I play a playlist on shuffle, it’ll play a few seconds of a song, then make this weird beeping noise, and it’ll change to a new song (and restart the playlist—that is, the new song will say, like, 1 of 14 or whatever). Then that song will play for a few seconds, I’ll get the weird beeping noise, and the playlist will restart again on a different song.
Also, if I try to unclick shuffle, it’ll automatically put it back on.
It’s INFURIATING. I’m running the most recent version of the iPhone software. Can anyone help?
Why are they so creepy? Of course all they get is the desperate end of the night drunk girls. I feel kind of bad for them, they think these girls are cruising them, when in fact they are thinking- well he can’t have an STD, because with that mustache no one is hitting it, I could take him in a fight if he is in fact crazy, and well, I am drunk, I lost a contact, my friends have all left and he looks okay in the dark and across the bar.
These aren’t cheetahs, they are hyenas, picking at the leftovers. Dudes, you are the leftovers.
By Fruitfly on 12/02/2009 at 4:03pm
My most recent post (not this one, the other most recent post) is showing up in my Dashboard but not on the live site (the front end? I hate that terminology. You know what I mean.). This happening to anyone else?
I got a little too close to the judicial process today.
My day started in Kings County Civil Court at 360 Adams St., so I thought that if I did indeed get called to serve on a jury, it would be in a civil court matter. But when my name got called, they told my group of 30 we were going over to the “other” building—the Criminal Court at 320 Jay St. Another hour or so went by, and we were finally called into the courtroom. The judge, Guy Mangano, had a nice mustache. He gave us a lecture about how it was a privilege to serve on a jury, et cetera, and then dismissed us for lunch.
After lunch we came back and 16 of us were called into the jury box for voir dire. The judge told us that the defendant was accused of a holdup and then stealing a car in 2007, and he had been caught a month after the holdup when he was pulled over with the stolen car.
They asked us a bunch of questions. They seemed hung up on whether we would be willing to convict based on the testimony of just one witness. The defense attorney also asked us whether we would be willing to consider the possibility that a detective was lying on the stand.
I didn’t get chosen, and even though I had some fleeting thoughts that it might be cool to serve on a jury, I was hoping I’d be dismissed.
But when I got home tonight I looked up the defendant. Armed robbery and grand theft auto were the least of his worries—he’s already been convicted of killing Kyong-Sook “Linda” Woo, the dry cleaner in Windsor Terrace who was murdered in 2008, and faces up to 25 years in prison. He committed that murder when he was out on bail for the armed robbery he was accused of in 2007.
Besides the fact that it gave me the creeps, I thought—what if I had been put on that jury? I would’ve come home and Googled the guy anyway and found that he’d already been convicted of the murder of the dry cleaner. And then however much I tried to tell myself he was innocent til proven guilty, I don’t think I would’ve been able to really think that he was.
But just because you get a 1099 at the end of the year instead of a W-2 doesn’t mean you can’t draw unemployment. I learned this lesson personally after being laid off from my job as a blogger for the gossip site Gawker, and being told by various know-it-alls that I couldn’t collect because I’d been paid as a freelancer. I applied anyway, and while I had to wait six months for the board to make a ruling, I finally started drawing checks, a $405-a-week lifeline.
Sheila wrote about finally getting unemployment from Gawker in the Post on Nov. 2. (The graf above was buried in an article about how laid-off freelancers can sometimes get unemployment benefits.) Today Choire reports that Gawker is giving its employees a choice: become full-time, for real, or stay on contract and work four days a week, thereby avoiding being “full-time.” (Or something. Presumably they have run this by a lawyer, or at least Gaby. Which, related: Is she full-time?)
I highly doubt that this is something Nick is doing out of the goodness of his heart. (He has one, okay?) It is much cheaper to have all your employees be contract employees. Forget health insurance; even if they’re full-time he doesn’t have to offer it. (There was a brief period, around when I worked there, that we were offered health insurance, I think thanks to Oxfeld. As far as I know that stopped soon after I left.) But by having everyone on contract Nick could avoid paying payroll taxes on his employees, which—from what I understand—amount to around an extra 15 percent of payroll. Not an insignificant sum, certainly.
Nick may have been alone in building an entire company based on contract employees, but he’s certainly not alone in media. It’s the dirty little not-so-secret, isn’t it? The way that the New York Times “lays off” its (contract) news clerks every six months for two weeks so that they don’t become full-time employees and join the union and have to get health insurance. TimeWarner, Conde Nast, BusinessWeek, Viacom… I know, or have known, people at all of those companies who were “freelance” and yet, mysteriously had to go into an office every day from 10 to 6 or whatever and do the same jobs as people who were getting benefits. Funny, that! It’s no surprise that nobody has really written this story, because every media company I know of does it.
But anyway, re: Gawker, then the question becomes: Does the 15 percent that Nick loses in payroll taxes get made up in other ways? Do employees become more loyal? More productive? Do they stay longer? I’m curious to see how it all plays out.
In David Carr’s profile of Jason Reitman that ran in the NYT on Sunday, pegged to the release of Reitman’s new movie Up In the Air, Carr writes:
By the time the script was finished and shooting was being set, Mr. Reitman realized that job loss, merely a motif in the script, was something he had to come at more directly. He decided to hold an open casting call for the recently fired in St. Louis and Detroit. Kevin Pilla, a father of four from St. Louis, was cast after he received an untenable relocation offer from his employer, an electronics distribution company.
“It gave me a chance to relive the moment and say all of the things that I wanted to say at the time,” Mr. Pilla said… “The second they heard the language of firing, you could just see it,” Mr. Reitman said. “Their eyes would turn, their posture would change, their face would go sallow. One girl broke into hives. It just happened, and they would be in the moment.”
Thing is, Carr makes it sound—and Reitman probably implied it—that Reitman made it clear that he was shooting a feature film when he held those open casting calls. But when I went to a screening of Up In the Air a few weeks ago, Reitman said in a Q&A afterwards that he had placed ads in the local papers saying that he was shooting a documentary about people who had been laid off, and when the people showed up for their “audition,” he never told them that their wrenching confessions of what it felt like to be laid off were going to be not in a documentary about the economy, but a $25 million feature film half-backed by his father Ivan (Ghostbusters!). Who knows, maybe he told them later (though he didn’t mention this in the Q&A), and clearly this guy Kevin Pilla is now aware how his “performance” was used.
In the Q&A Reitman seemed really thrilled at the authenticity of the performances he had gotten out of these “real” people. But knowing how he got them made me feel icky.
Whatever happens, we do not want the government conducting any studies on whether current health practices actually do any good. Let this continue and soon you will not be able to get your hands on a good leech when you need one.
Also, whenever anyone mentions leeches I automatically think of that scene in Stand By Me.