VICEhttps://www.vice.com/en_usRSS feed for https://www.vice.comenMon, 17 Dec 2018 06:01:20 +0000<![CDATA[Don't Kid Yourself, Republicans Are Never Going to Turn on Trump]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bjebm8/why-republicans-wont-impeach-trumpMon, 17 Dec 2018 06:01:20 +0000 The dream of impeaching and removing Donald Trump looks tantalizingly close, with Robert Mueller and other investigators prying into multiple aspects of his business and presidency. Democrats are hoping for an end to the Trump era similar to that of Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace on August 9, 1974. By that point in the Watergate scandal, Nixon was facing probable impeachment by the House, followed by a conviction by the Senate. The writing was on the wall, and seeing that it was over, Nixon chose to go down the path of least resistance.

"By taking this action," Nixon said in his resignation speech, "I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."

Nixon's resignation has been the comparison on which many hopeful liberals hang their dreams of a Trump-free White House. But times have changed since the 37th president left office. The United States hasn’t healed since the Nixon era; it’s become even more fissured. Rather than ushering in an era of decency and upstanding moral character, the Nixon years begat a Republican Party controlled by its most extreme right-wing elements. And as its policy instincts have drifted to the right, it has also become less inclined to police the worst behavior of its leaders—a classic authoritarian outcome.

Comparisons between Nixon and Trump are apt. Both men assumed office through political dirty tricks, whether the Watergate break-in in Nixon's case or the still murky details of the Russia scandal in Trump's. Both administrations have seen indictments of people close to the White House. But where Nixon's malfeasance ultimately became too much for his party to bear, it doesn't look like Trump is going to face the same kind of revolt from the modern GOP—even if he's proven in the end to have personally broken the law.

Even by the standards of Trump-era politics, it was a shock to see sitting US senators dismiss the ever-more-likely possibility that the president was involved in criminal activity. Republicans John Thune, Bill Cassidy, and Susan Collins all wriggled out of directly addressing the charges that Trump was implicated in felonies stemming from the Michael Cohen conviction. Orrin Hatch, the retiring Republican Senator from Utah, was more direct.

"I don't care," Hatch told CNN. "All I can say is he's doing a good job as president."



Hatch walked back his remark later, calling it “irresponsible,” but the episode reflects broader attitudes in the GOP. The more evidence of misbehavior that piles up against Trump the more it seems clear the party will stay behind him. Loyalty to the president is an article of faith for the Republican Party; Trump regularly enjoys intra-party approval ratings in the 80s and 90s, even as his total approval rating has remained underwater for his entire presidency. On the rare occasions when Republican officials criticize Trump, they usually do so when they’re headed out of office, as Jeff Flake did last year when he announced his retirement from the Senate. The nearly five decades that have passed since Nixon stepped down have only made the GOP more cohesive and less incline to hold its standard-bearers accountable for their actions.

That doesn't bode well for the aftermath of a possible House impeachment in the next session, when Democrats will control the chamber. In order to remove Trump from office, the Senate will have to bring him to trial and convict him. Doing so takes two-thirds of the chamber, and with the Senate under narrow, but solid, GOP control, it's unlikely that with today's party there will even be a bare majority in favor of conviction.

The modern right wing sees politics as a moral struggle between good and evil, an uncompromising view of power that has infected all levels of the political discourse. The GOP arguably began down this path under Nixon, who assembled a winning coalition by whipping up racist opposition to the Civil Rights movement and mobilizing voters based in part on white, Christian identity.

The GOP of the 1970s was far more ideologically diverse than today. There were more Republicans wedded to the idea of a civil discourse, establishment ideals being important, and the promise of institutions. The party also included Northeastern "Rockefeller" Republicans, pro-business heirs to the tradition of abolitionism that started the party in the antebellum era, when the GOP was born from anti-slavery sentiment.

Those Republicans were gone by the time of the Reagan administration, which was rocked by several scandals, most notably the Iran-Contra affair, which saw Ronald Reagan giving this mind-bending admission of falsehood: “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions tell me that's true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not.” Investigations into administration officials would continue for years, ending only when George H.W. Bush, Reagan’s vice president and successor, pardoned six people.

In the 1990s, the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Revolution swept a group of conservatives into power who were even more reactionary and angry than their predecessors. Angered at the existence of the Bill Clinton presidency and determined to do whatever it took to turn him out of office, the new members of Congress spent much of the decade pursuing charges against the president, finally impeaching him for perjury related to his affair with Monica Lewinsky. One can trace the Whitewater investigation to the Nixon impeachment; taking down Clinton was payback.

"I can’t say it wasn’t [payback]," said Republican Congressman Henry Hyde of Clinton's impeachment in 2005, "but I also thought that the Republican party should stand for something, and if we walked away from this, no matter how difficult, we could be accused of shirking our duty, our responsibility."

Today's Republican Party stands for the Republican Party. The GOP has spiraled into ideological rigidity, moving evermore to the right. The Northeastern Republicans of the Nixon era—then already an endangered species—are almost completely extinct today. There's only one one Republican in the entire New England delegation as of the midterm election.

To be sure, the fetishization of a politics of civility has its own problems. It's inarguable, however, that established norms keep institutions humming along without major disasters. Nixon’s resignation was an example of the system working.

Today's Republican Party has no pretense of concern for those institutions. On the one hand, that's refreshing because they're not pretending to be motivated by anything beyond self-interest. But it also signals a worrying future for the country. When the party's last five-decade history has involved going further to the right at every junction, what's the logical next step when you abandon all pretense of adhering to democratic norms?

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Eoin Higgins on Twitter.

]]>
bjebm8Eoin HigginsHarry CheadlepoliticsDonald Trumpimpeachmentrichard nixonOpinionViews My Own
<![CDATA[Eric Andre Should Be Trump's Next Chief of Staff]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xwjkzn/eric-andre-should-be-trumps-next-chief-of-staffFri, 14 Dec 2018 22:44:48 +0000Donald Trump has a problem: Not even scandal-plagued former New Jersery Governor Chris Christie wants to be his next White House chief of staff. That leaves the president reportedly struggling to fill a once-coveted position, which John Kelly will be vacating in 2020. On Twitter Friday evening, Trump announced that Mick Mulvaney, the current Director of the Office of Management, will serve as acting chief of staff, but he's still seeking someone permanent for the gig. (Reportedly, Jared Kushner is being considered.)

Much like hosting the Oscars, the seemingly enviable and high-profile job is actually undesirable—whoever decides to take on the role of organizing the chaotic White House is bound to fail, and runs the risk of destroying their reputation by implicating themselves in the bad behavior of the administration. It's doubtful that anyone can rein in the mayhem teeming from Trump's pores. That's why the White House needs somebody who embodies chaos, who isn't afraid to act wild and lawless.

So who better than comedian Eric Andre?

As I wrote in an article earlier this month on why Andre would make a great host for the Academy Awards, he is bound to "yield high ratings and may even be written about in the history books." But honestly, Andre is above a petty gig like emceeing an award show—he deserves more influence and power, which is why he belongs in the West Wing. Here are all the reasons why:

He has a penchant for destruction

This would give him and the president something to bond over!

He isn't afraid to be controversial

Eric Andre has said the following things:

  • "You ever bone your grandma to death? Talk about going out with a bang."
  • "I was jacking off to a scene from Django Unchained the other night, and I said, ‘It’s no Roots,’ but then I came anyway."
  • "Gwyneth Paltrow is a leech on society, and she needs to be stopped immediately. If we don't put a stop to Gwyneth Paltrow, Gwyneth Paltrow is gonna put a stop on us."
  • "Not a lot of people know this, but L. Ron Hubbard was a black man."

Meaning that no matter what crazy shit Trump says, Andre will always be able to refocus the news cycle.

Literally nobody else wants the job

Eric Andre, on the other hand, is desperate for a job.

Like Trump, he made a splash at the 2016 Republican Convention

"I want you to have sex with my wife," Andre told Trump ally Alex Jones.

He could intimidate the Trump cabinet into submission

Former Marine general John Kelly was unable to keep the White House in order, but if you look at the interviews Andre did on The Eric Andre Show, it's clearly the comedian has a unique ability to make people uncomfortable.

As chief of staff, Andre would use his shameless antics to his benefit, and make sure that Trump and his staffers stay in line.

He just has the right energy

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Eve Peyser on Twitter and Instagram.

]]>
xwjkznEve PeyserHarry CheadlepoliticsDonald TrumpEric Andretrump white house
<![CDATA[My Painful Quest to Find the Worst Christmas Movie Ever Made]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3k94mj/whats-the-worst-christmas-movie-on-amazon-or-netflixFri, 14 Dec 2018 22:12:19 +0000This post contains spoilers for multiple bad Christmas movies.

Each Christmas, I attempt to spend a few days watching Christmas classics. Which can be difficult, because there have been, in the history of the entertainment industry, maybe 20 Christmassy movies that you could say are legitimately good. Even ones that are considered classics would've been probably been disregarded years ago if they didn't have Santa hats and Christmas trees. Most holiday-themed movies are bland, boring, and and completely mediocre. And there's no joy in watching mediocre movies. But there can be a lot of joy in watching terrible ones.

So in an effort to find the absolute worst of the bunch, I spent an entire day, from waking to sleep, trying to find the shittiest festive movie I could. So you could share in my misery, I decided to only include movies that are available on the main US streaming services. Which, unfortunately, means things like the Hulk Hogan-starring Santa with Muscles and the Christian Christmas film that dragged Mike Huckabee into a class-action lawsuit,were excluded.

Unless otherwise specified, I found these movies by just scrolling through menus and clicking on things that looked awful.

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas

A festive wedding scene
Screencap via Netflix

This one was kind of nice. The movie was so flat and formulaic, it sent me into a kind of waking coma. It appeared to have received the minimum acceptable amount of effort from everyone involved. The actors delivered their lines with the enthusiasm of of a prisoner of war being forced to tape a renouncement of their home country at gunpoint. I think the monotony and beige festive glow of every scene might have hypnotized me. By this point, it was almost midnight, and I had been watching Christmas movies for almost 18 hours.

I was brought back to reality by the film’s ending, which was delightfully bonkers.

The main characters are a wedding planner, her cousin who is getting married, and a sexy PI who is the ex boyfriend of the bride and has been hanging out with the wedding planner for the last couple of weeks.

Sexy PI interrupts the wedding during the “any objections” portion to announce that the groom has a secret baby. Cousin Bride, devastated, cancels the wedding. Then, in an extremely inappropriate move, Sexy PI proposes to Wedding Planner, right there in the ashes of the wedding he just ruined.

“You can’t do this… we barely know each other” says Wedding Planner. Which is an extremely reasonable position to take, given that they’ve only known each other for two weeks, don’t seem to especially like each other, and are currently at the wedding of one of her relatives, who has just been brutally and publicly humiliated.

In response, Sexy PI says, “If you let me, I’d like to spend a lifetime fixing that.”

This is all it takes to persuade Wedding Planner, and she heads inside with Sexy PI to immediately get married. The cousin serves as a bridesmaid without even changing out of her wedding dress.

While watching, I suspected this movie was probably written by a man. IMDb confirmed my suspicion. He also previously wrote things called Cougar de Bergerac and Bro-bot.

Available on Netflix.

Conclusion

An American Carol was definitely the worst movie I watched during my day. But since it's only loosely tied to Christmas, I'm not sure it qualifies to receive the honor or Worst Christmas Movie of All Time (Within the Confines of This Fairly Lazy Experiment). Instead, I'm going to give that honor to Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas. For being technically bad, as a movie, but also for having the extremely questionable moral that buying Christmassy tat is more Christian than funding wells in Africa.

Also because Kirk Cameron seems to get really annoyed when people call his movie bad. Which is funny.

Follow Jamie Lee Curtis Taete on Instagram.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

]]>
3k94mjJamie Lee Curtis TaeteHarry CheadleCultureFilmchristmasNETFLIXentertainmentChristianitykirk cameronbad movies
<![CDATA[We Asked Inmates How Michael Cohen Will Get Treated in Prison]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8xpb9k/we-asked-inmates-how-michael-cohen-will-get-treated-in-prisonFri, 14 Dec 2018 20:47:07 +0000Donald Trump's clown of a former fixer Michael Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison on Wednesday after orchestrating hush money payments to two women who said they had affairs with the now-president prior to his 2016 election. Cohen, who went from a wannabe tough guy rubbing elbows with Russian mobsters and threatening reporters to flipping on his old boss and begging forgiveness for falling down a "a path of darkness," previously pleaded guilty to a bevy of federal offenses: violations of campaign-finance law, tax evasion, deception in dealings with a bank, and lying to Congress.

Now he's slated to become the first member of the president's orbit to do a serious bid in the system in which I spent over two decades of my life, beginning March 6. The judge in his case recommended Cohen do time in FCI-Otisville, a medium-security New York prison with a rep for being "rat"-friendly and, as CNN reported, a place often populated by white-collar felons like this one.

To find out how Cohen will get treated in prison, considering his high-profile and the president effectively branding him a snitch, I reached out to those still doing time in my former abode for perspective of what awaits the disgraced lawyer. As they inevitably do in such cases involving informed speculation about an inherently unpredictable world of bars, blood, and boredom, opinions varied—some predicted Cohen was too politically sensitive to face immense danger, while others expected him to face the kind of "soft extortion" often visited on vulnerable inmates.

Either way, his A-list status, ties to (and subsequent split from) the most notorious man in the country, and background as a mover-and-shaker with plenty of cash meant he had no shot of just blending in and quietly serving out his time.



“Had Trump not became president, Michael Cohen would have never went to prison,” Nicholas "Sawed Off" McDougal, who's serving 12 years at FCI Terre Haute in Indiana for armed robbery, told VICE. “He'll be alright at a place like Otisville, a big rat hideout yard. He has money to get him through the next couple years.”

“Cohen will do fine in prison," agreed Israel Mendez, who's doing 30 years over three kilos of cocaine, also at FCI Terre Haute. “He's gonna go in there and be treated like a celebrity. He has money which will make his time easy, and he might end up teaching, and doing good things. When his time is over, this will be a little blip. No big deal at all."

Despite the judge's plug for Cohen doing his bid at Otisville—an institution that made the Forbes top ten “cushiest prisons” list—the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) will send Cohen wherever they want. Indeed, I recall plenty of inmates complaining about the feds not following judges' recommendations and fucking up their plans for how to cope with incarceration.

Still, the prison assassination of Whitey Bulger—among the few recent BOP denizens whose media saturation rivaled Cohen's—meant the feds were likely to take special care in assigning this guy somewhere he could survive.

“The BOP does not want another high-profile inmate getting beat or stomped out by others who may hate Cohen,” Andre Cooper, a man serving three life sentences at FCI Cumberland in Maryland for racketeering charges relating to drugs and murder, told VICE via email. “He might be in a situation like Bulger was and get hurt pretty badly. But, he might get treated like a rock-star because some may feel that he still has some connections out there that could benefit them upon release.”

“I believe Mr. Cohen will be free of any violent acts, but subject to verbal assault during his short stay in federal prison," offered Ralph Sergo, who’s doing ten years for LSD at FCI Coleman in Florida. “Since he will be at a [lower]-security prison most likely, I'm going to say that he'll be fine as long as he can ignore what people say to him. I very highly doubt anyone, even political fanatics, will physically harm Mr. Cohen. In fact, some may welcome him with open arms.”

Because Cohen was cooperating, albeit informally, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a celebrity-level case, his housing placement was sure to be scrutinized. In truth, brutal fights are pretty rare at lower-security prison "camps"—it’s not like Shawshank Redemption. However, there's always a guy out there trying to a make name for himself, and Cohen's a known rat, a type prisoners really love to hate.

“There is no way that Cohen makes it through prison without having all kinds of problems," argued Troy Hockenberry, who's doing a ten-year sentence for a gun charge at FCI Terre Haute. “The guy is one of the most well-known snitches in America right now. And I don't care what prison he goes to—he's hit!”

If I were him, or I could advise him, I’d tell Cohen to help as many inmates as possible with their legal work and become an asset. Inmates tend to give competent jailhouse lawyers a pass, even if they are rats, ex-law enforcement and the like.

The other thing that could smooth the way for Cohen is his money, to the extent he still has it. There's nothing like cash to help you make friends inside.

“He won’t have any problems whatsoever and this will end up being parlayed into a book deal for him, thus making him even wealthier," Robert Lustyik, a former FBI agent serving 15 years for corruption, told VICE. “He basically changed American history by covering up information that might have swayed the election. He then made light of his offenses throughout his legal proceedings. When he realized that his offenses were being taken seriously, he decided to save himself and cooperate.”

That's also a concerning element, though: Cohen may be seen as a walking ATM from day one. Some prisoners may try and squeeze him for funds to use on the commissary (where they buy food and other comforts).

“I would like to say that Cohen will have no troubles in prison, but my gut feeling tells me that he will," Ronald Coleman, who’s doing 262 months for conspiracy to traffic weed and launder money, told VICE. “When you see him on camera, his entire disposition just screams "bitch"—not how you want to be seen if you are in prison. On the flip side, I guess they could put him in protective custody, but even in PC I think he'll be paying somebody.”

With Cohen’s lawyer saying after sentencing that his client would disclose everything he knew about the president to the public after the Russia probe wraps up, it will be interesting to see whether he's viewed primarily as a rat or as an opponent of a guy—Trump—many inmates despise. Cohen did not officially sign a deal to cooperate with the US Attorneys, it should be noted, but the coverage of the case and Trump's broadsides make it hard to believe he won't be perceived primarily as a rat—which come in even lower than pedophiles on the prison totem pole.

"No matter how President Trump acts or speaks about people, he still got snitched on," Cooper said. “Michael Cohn is still a stool pigeon in the eyes of most convicts/inmates in the BOP, no matter how anybody wants to look at it."

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Robert Rosso contributed reporting to this story.

Follow Seth Ferranti on Instagram and Twitter.

]]>
8xpb9kSeth FerrantiMatt TaylorVICE USprisonDonald Trumptrue crimesnitches get stitchesSnitchesMichael Cohenrussia investigationstormy danielsKaren McDougal
<![CDATA['Good Parents Die Hard,' Today's Comic by Alex Krokus]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wj3b9x/good-parents-die-hard-todays-comic-by-alex-krokus-comicsFri, 14 Dec 2018 19:13:45 +00001544736071935-AK_thegenius_v02

Check out more of Alex's art on his Instagram, Twitter, and website.

]]>
wj3b9xAlex KrokusNick GazinchristmasfansmoviesParentsparentingComics!Die HardVice comicsAlex Krokus
<![CDATA[There Is No There: Advice from So Sad Today]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a3mqzz/there-is-no-there-advice-from-so-sad-todayFri, 14 Dec 2018 18:48:47 +0000Dear So Sad Today,

You know when you're young, you always think "when I'm older my life will start.” I'm not really talking about having high expectations or big dreams, just ~life~ stuff: a first real boyfriend, a career kicking off, doing more & seeing more. I used to wonder, but not worry because I was young and it would all happen in the future.

So I waited for life to happen and now the future is here but life hasn't come with it. I just assumed it would all happen. I'm in my 20s, I didn't go to college but I found my own path. I know the solution is to get out there but it can be hard to find where "there" is. When I do stumble upon it, it's like a brief glimpse of life and then it's gone again.

So when does life start? Have I not thought it into existence hard enough? How do I start life when it feels like nothing ever happens?

Thanks,

one point forever (but hopefully not)

Dear one point forever (but hopefully not),

As I write this, I’m sitting in a cold, dirty Chick-fil-A. I just got a hair treatment that isn’t supposed to get wet and I ran in here to escape a downpour of rain (in Los Angeles of all places). The girls in the booth next to me are talking about the Kardashians using their first names only (“Kylaaayyy, Khloaaayyy”) and I’m trying to calculate the calories in a dish called Chick-n-Strips. I don’t think I am “there” yet either.

Or maybe I am there? The thing about arriving is that it’s elusive. As you said, we have experiences—brief glimpses of what we might call life (though it’s all life, really)—and then they are gone. I’m not sure who designed happiness like this, but the Buddha seems to know something about its fleeting nature.

When I was in my 20s, I believed in the possibility that I would one day really “arrive.” I thought that if I went to the right psychic or took the right amount of drugs or figured out my astrological chart or studied the right religion or published a book or fucked the right person or the right person fell in love with me, then it would all happen. The idea of arrival, for me, meant not only some summit I wanted to reach in the outside world, but also a permanent feeling of wholeness within myself that I was hoping to attain.

What I’ve come to learn is that truth is one and paths are many, and there is no psychic or astrological chart that knows any more than anyone else. There is no fuckable person (or people) who can fill all my desirous holes. There are not enough drugs to render me permanently high. There is nothing I can buy that will make me impervious to the feeling of lack. There is no amount of books that I could publish to make me feel like “enough.” After the book comes the fear of never publishing another book.

This knowledge that nothing outside of myself is enough—a knowing that I’ve accumulated gradually, through experience and many mistakes—does not mean I’m enlightened. With the exception of the drugs (off of which I am clean), I often still look to achievement, external validation, or the perfect purse to make me feel “there.” In other words, I forget what I know all the time.

But, I would say what’s nice about being in my 30s is that the search for a “there” is slightly less desperate now, a bit less frenetic. Or, when I’m desperately striving for something, whatever it is, I tend to see what I’m doing a bit more quickly now. If I’m straining to “make” something happen, if I feel like I have to get something or I will die, there’s a good chance it’s time to let go of that thing. The best way to describe my life is that I often wake up forgetting that I already have all I need. The rest of the day then becomes about remembering.

My daily meditation practice helps with this, because it gives me a template of “pause.” It reminds me that pause exists and that I don’t have to believe every thought, every want, every desire. But even meditation can become a misguided attempt to get to some kind of “there.” If my practice doesn’t feel serene, I can wonder what I’m doing wrong (the answer is nothing). Spiritual materialism isn’t just about the purchase of crystals and expensive candles. It can be found even in the desire for a practice to look or feel a certain way.

I think this is also true of the elusive state of “okayness” in general. I used to think that okayness was a place, some solid state I would reach and that within it there would be no fluctuations. I imagined myself untouchable, free, not subject to other people’s opinions or my own sensitivity. But I don’t think that’s really a human experience. If everything in nature is always changing, then why wouldn’t we?

It seems that the more I try to find some permanent state of okayness, to unify all my fragments into some kind of comprehensible (or even branded) whole, the less okay I feel. Even the pressure to “be okay with not being okay,” as is the popular expression, seems like a lot. Like, maybe it’s more about being okay with not being okay with not being okay?

xo

so sad today

Got questions for So Sad Today? Send them here.

Follow So Sad Today on Twitter and buy the book here.

]]>
a3mqzzSo Sad TodayJonathan SmithLia Kantrowitzmental healthAdviceso sad todayso sad today viceso sad today advicehow to get therelife stuffokayness
<![CDATA[Could Weed Save New York's Awful Subways?]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zmdkea/could-weed-save-new-yorks-awful-subwaysFri, 14 Dec 2018 18:41:29 +0000On April 27, 2019 the L train in New York City will shut down for 15 months between Manhattan and Brooklyn to repair damage caused during Hurricane Sandy. Leading up to the closure, VICE will be providing relevant updates and proposals, as well as profiles of community members and businesses along the affected route in a series we're calling Tunnel Vision. Read more about the project here.

After years of backpedaling and underinvestment, New York’s lawmakers are poised to enter 2019 sincerely convinced (finally) of two things: that the New York City subway system is deeply fucked, and that it will take a lot of money to fix it.

Alas, what has launched in recent weeks is a scramble of proposals—some old, some new—to pay for the billions of dollars that the MTA will need to merely get the subway system up to par with the rest of the world’s major transit networks. It’s probably the best chance America’s largest city has had in decades to get the infrastructure that it has long deserved.

In July 2017, journalist Aaron Short highlighted on this website one of those proposals: legalizing weed to help fix America’s infrastructure crisis. The places that have legalized, he wrote, have amassed millions of dollars in tax revenues, which has since been reverted to help pay for infrastructure in states like Washington and Colorado. New York—which has nearly quadruple the population of Colorado and an economy bigger than countries like Argentina and the Netherlands—could stand to benefit immensely from taxing pot, Short argued. So why not put it to the subways?

And that’s exactly what a growing chorus of elected officials in New York are now thinking.

Earlier this month, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson came out in support of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, and using that tax revenue to help pay for the subway fixes. He promised to urge Albany—including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has softened his tone on the issue as other northeastern states have legalized—to act.

Joining Johnson, his predecessor, Melissa Mark-Viverito, has formally made the proposal—what she has titled ‘Weed for Rails’—a centerpiece of her candidacy for the city’s public advocate office, which will see a special election called in late February to fill the citywide seat. The former Council Speaker also sits on the MTA Sustainability Advisory Working Group, which is considering nearly a dozen potential revenue sources. And this is one of them.

VICE reached out to Mark-Viverito to find out more about the idea, and other potential ways to fund the city’s subways. (That includes Amazon.) Here’s what she had to say.

VICE: First off, what's wrong with the New York City subway system?
Melissa Mark-Viverito: It's in major crisis. It affects the quality of life for everyday New Yorkers, and it's also affecting, obviously, the vitality of the city. When you talk about our mass transit system—which is the largest, and so important in getting New Yorkers around—between the buses and the subways, you hear people's complaints of the commutes every single day. The delays; the lack of investment over years, and the infrastructure. Now, everything has just come together, and it's this crisis. You know, ‘We haven't updated the signals, so that's the delays. The infrastructure is a mess.’ I was doing a meet and greet this morning underneath the 7 train, and that line is the number one complaint of those communities. If you see the videos, how horribly overcrowded they are. But it's happening all over.

So it's just a crisis, which I don't think is getting the attention that it merits. We all know it's broken. We all know it needs fixing. But I don't hear people providing solutions. So utilizing the position of public advocate and this candidacy, I really want to champion that issue, bring the conversation to the forefront, and recommend some sort of policy solutions. And that's where the Weed for Rails came about.

How would Weed for Rails work?
It's about us saying, 'This is a substantive source of revenue that a portion of it we can allocate to this critical infrastructure need, which impacts particularly low-income and working-class communities, who have limited options.' If you got resources, you can call an Uber or Lyft every day to get you around. But if you're somebody who relies on the transportation system, even though it's still expensive for many, then you're limited in your options. So this is impacting your ability to get to work on time. It's impacting spending quality time with your family. If you get delayed to work, you could have an employer who doesn't accommodate or be flexible, so it could impact your employment. It could impact the quality of life of your children, who have to wake up earlier to get to school because of it.

It's a serious issue, and for me, saying, 'Alright, I believe in legalization of marijuana—let's legalize marijuana; second, that source of revenue, we're going to apply some of it to the critical infrastructure needs of our transit system; and the remainder, we'll invest and create opportunities in communities that have been overcriminalized and have been disproportionately impacted.’ [Another candidate for the office, Rafael Espinal, criticized the plan for not giving back enough to these communities.] That's a concrete recommendation, and people are reacting to it. It's obviously stirring up debate, and that's what we need right now. We need to focus, and we need to take this to be the crisis that it is.

What do you think are the issues that led to this?
It's always with infrastructure. It's not just with our transit system, to be honest. It's with our bridges, and in general, the lack of continued investment in the infrastructure of our city—NYCHA public housing is another example of that. So when you see that, over the years, it accumulates to a point where it's not addressed and it becomes a crisis. And that's the point where we find ourselves. So a historic disinvestment in that, and that's basically what it is.

What do you think about other spending proposals on the table?
Obviously congestion pricing is something I support, and I've been a supporter of it strongly since 2008. And the fact that we haven't passed that is ridiculous. But that revenue alone is a drop in the bucket in terms of the needs of the MTA. So the capital construction is where I'm talking about investing the money, but then there's the operational side, which is a whole other set of conversations. That's about pensions, management in general, and how the MTA functions. That's a separate conversation. But my recommendation is specifically about investing in the infrastructure needs. When we talk about President Andy Byford's Fast Forward Plan, he's talking about uploading a lot of the capital infrastructure work. You know, bringing it closer—within 10 years, as opposed to 20 or 15 years. In doing that, you're basically going to have front load, and put more money into that. To realize that plan, we need to invest heavily. So the gap is huge, and it's billions of dollars that we're talking about. Trying to at least address that plan, which is to bring the capital infrastructure up to speed, is where I'm focusing the plan on.

How do you see yourself using the Public Advocate's office—which isn't necessarily a lawmaking position—to get something like this through? What will the push look like?
The public advocate can introduce legislation. It's also a bully pulpit, too—you have a citywide position, raising your voice, making it an issue, saying that the state needs to focus on this. Making the voice of the disillusioned New Yorkers who are frustrated, letting them know that there is someone in government that's listening to them, and that is trying to force a debate and a conversation about how are we going to find a solution.

The vigorous debate that has ensued is a testament to that, so I want to do that in that role, not only for the transportation issue, but for the other issues I care about. So it's really important that we think outside of the box; that we be creative, and that we're not ignoring it. Cynthia Nixon made her campaign about the MTA, and that was important. I think it was important for people to see that somebody cared about that — it's something that people are frustrated about every day.

As you know, the politics around the subway have grown sour. There has been an ongoing debate between the mayor and the governor about who's responsible here. Where do you see this proposal falling into that larger political mess?
My thing is, look, I'm tired of the pettiness. I'm tired of the fighting. And so are New Yorkers, because they're not seeing things getting done. I'm not saying who is more to blame here, but it's a constant pissing match. You know, the governor wants to overstep and then say that he's completely a state authority, but then the city is responsible. But, come on. It's a way of deflecting responsibility and accountability. We have to all just figure out how we're going to make this work. My thing is that this is cutting right through the middle of it, throwing a big and bold idea on the table, and like, let's see what we do with this.

Another fix that has been floated of late: forcing Amazon to help pay for transit infrastructure in exchange for the massive tax breaks they received to bring their second office to Western Queens . Earlier this week, your old office at City Council held a contentious hearing with Amazon executives where issues like this were pressed. What do you think there?
At the end of the day, what happened with that deal is anti-democratic. Because a review process that would bring in community voices was completely usurped. And that is the governor and the mayor who colluded in that. That's unacceptable. The fact that they would not have advocated for a peace labor agreement, or for setting aside money to improve the transportation infrastructure... there's a lot of holes in this. I'm not saying as if the deal is done, because I think we need to get rid of that deal, but in terms of what they negotiated, they put together some sort of little infrastructure fund, but there's no indication of what that's for.

Like, what were they doing? And who were they advocating for? It wasn't the average New Yorker, who's going to be impacted by this monster of a corporation in the middle of Long Island City. So definitely a lot of questions about how this deal was struck, and at the end of the day, who does it really benefit. We know they have anti-labor practices, and history; that the jobs that they create squeeze the small businesses, and maybe lose jobs in that sector. There's a lot of concerns about it. And then there's the question of how we dole out subsidies to begin with now. We have to re-focus and revisit that whole conversation: what are we investing in?

Whoever becomes the city's public advocate would take office right around when the L train shutdown is getting underway. What do you see as the office's role there?
There's been a lot of conversation about that, and I know the Council has weighed in. Another role of the public advocate is oversight. Monitoring and making sure all things are going, so that process should be monitored heavily. There are all of these different recommendations about providing alternatives, and how to make that happen. So it's a matter of making sure there's constant engagement with the riders and the commuters and how that's going, and making sure we figure out how to facilitate the access to the service, to those who live in areas that are a little bit removed, and solely rely on this subway line. So a lot of it is monitoring and oversight over that process.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow John on Twitter.

]]>
zmdkeaJohn SuricoJonathan SmithNYCMTAMelissa Mark-Viveritol train shutdownsubway shutdownTunnel Visionweed for railsnew york subway shutdown
<![CDATA[We Spoke to Noah Centineo About Everything from Flirting to Feminism]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43959w/we-spoke-to-noah-centineo-about-everything-from-flirting-to-feminismFri, 14 Dec 2018 17:00:00 +0000This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

I never thought I’d live a Tuesday night that would end in a phone call from 2018’s summer crush Noah Centineo, but there we were.

“Hi, Sophie?” he asks as soon as I pick up. He’s smiling. It’s obvious, even over the phone.

The 22-year-old—whose endearing turn as Peter Kavinsky in Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before shot him to fame in August—quickly took the internet by storm. Fans on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more fell willing prey to his charisma and mop of perfectly un-perfect hair.

Like today’s other young male heartthrobs—Harry Styles, Michael B. Jordan, the entire Riverdale crew—his effect has been something like Zac Efron’s in 2006. Handsome, husky-voiced, wholesome, with a great smile—he was, right off the bat, loved, supported, invited onto every talk show and into every outlet’s quippy interview/puppy/party game video segment.

But he was 2018’s man. The internet has already been scouring for its 2019 golden boy. Centineo is less a presence on our daily social media scrolls, and his name is no longer one I hear uttered in everyday conversation. Some outlets have reiterated hearty doses of skepticism about his maturity, his skill, his absurdly-fast ascension to fame. Has he lost his moment in the sun? Is his momentum slowing? Is he simply well-rehearsed for interviews, regurgitating the same polished content in an effort to project a perfect package as he tries to maintain relevance in the industry?

I’m about to find out.

I was told we’d only have fifteen minutes to talk. He decides to stretch it to 42. I was told his agent would call me and connect me to him via an unlisted number. He calls me from a personal Floridian phone number instead. We even exchange texts a few weeks later.

His casual refusal to follows the standard ‘rules’ of his profession and of growing fame is the first thing I notice, and it endears me to him immediately. It makes his uniqueness even more obvious. Because Centineo isn’t your typical Hollywood golden boy. He climbs traffic signs during photoshoots. He cusses and writes poetry on the internet—occasionally at the same time. He expresses joy with his whole body and doesn’t seem to have a filter.

Pre-Kavinsky, he starred for five years on progressive family drama The Fosters, and made an appearance in Camila Cabelo’s Havana music video. Since Kavinsky—and subsequent role Jamey in Netflix’s Sierra Burgess is a Loser—Centineo is still landing role after role; amid other projects slated for release in 2019, he was just cast in Elizabeth Banks’s highly-anticipated Charlie’s Angels remake.

Centineo laughs frequently, listens actively, and clicks his teeth when he’s thinking. He explains the unease he’s realized comes hand-in-hand with notoriety; namely, that the public feels a degree of ownership over his life. “I don’t want to close myself off to people or opportunities,” he said. “But I also have to learn how to protect myself.”

Given the tumult of what was, quite literally, overnight fame (he gained over one million Instagram followers in a single dusk-to-dawn), he certainly has had to modify how he manages his personal life. He can no longer post on social media about where he is because he’ll have to manage an influx of fans and paparazzi, visibility he says he is grateful for, though he worries about whomever he’s with—he doesn’t want the attention to make them feel uncomfortable.

He wonders now whether people he meets may have hidden agendas. He does his best to stay grounded even as he fears he’ll get caught up in distractions that come with life in the spotlight. And he is well aware of his privilege; these are what he calls “beautiful” problems.

“There’s certain publications or companies that want something from me but I just don’t feel comfortable giving that to them,” he elaborates. “And, like, I turn down the idea, and all of a sudden I’m a dick because I didn’t feel comfortable doing something. You know? It’s interesting.”

Centineo is remarkably easy to talk to. Part of it is his inherent—and warmly flirtatious—charm. The other is his inherent curiosity. He grills me for several minutes about my dental history.

“Wait, you’ve had 16 teeth pulled? For... for wh... Wh... why? Like, baby teeth too?”

I explain that I had too many rows of incisor teeth. He’s murmuring affirmatively along with the story. “That’s wild,” he finally says. “Have you gotten tested for having superpowers? You probably should.”

The new life he leads has been an exciting transition for Centineo, even as he tries to maintain a balanced and grounded lifestyle. Born and raised in Miami before moving to LA as a teen, the rising star says the smell of fresh cut grass still reminds him of home. He meditates every day, lists sleep as his favorite activity, and enjoys eating vegan, though he doesn’t call himself one (“It’s 2018. [Vegans] have figured out their recipes.”)

He’s playing on the piano, softly. Under his words, a note, a ping, here, there, accenting an intimate way of speaking that is introspective and extroverted at once.

I ask him what single thing he’s most nostalgic for.

“Love,” he sighs, without a pause. What is his love? It’s safety, support, a challenge to be the best version of himself.

He spins me tales of times he’s fallen in love at first sight. Tells me about how dates he’s been on (he went bungee jumping with someone once, but connected more with a girl he met for a simple coffee date). Admits that he recently cried reading a script—an existential love drama—because he related to it so deeply.

“To me, when you’re crying, you’re aligned with some sort of truth,” he offers. “Some inner truth. That’s why you cry. You identify. It’s just ultimate honesty.”

On the subject of honesty, he is willing to admit that he’s a flirt.

“Yeah, no, I flirt with people,” he acquiesces.

He hesitates.

“I think I need to pull that back.”

But he wants to defend himself. “When I’m with someone I give them my time and I give them my energy,” he says, “because I like making someone feel loved! And making them laugh, and just, like, being there with them.”

When he’s really into somebody, he says, he’ll tell them straight up. He has a lady in his life at the moment (fans may be disappointed to hear that it is not his To All the Boys costar Lana Condor, nor is it his Sierra Burgess is a Loser costar Shannon Purser) and he makes sure to tell this girl constantly, he says, how huge a crush he has on her.

By now I’ve realized what makes this epitomical “cool guy” so unique. It’s an intense focus on his feelings and those of others; it’s his heart on his sleeve, in his outstretched hand; it’s the way he owns his emotional intelligence, wearing it with an almost unnerving ease and assurance.

But though he’s spiritual and thoughtful, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s got a young heart and an especially inspiring brand of youthful energy.

He tells me one of his skills is finding creative ways to sneak onto rooftops. And he enjoys bingeing on junk food from time to time, even while he likes to maintain a healthy diet.

“Sweet Tarts are dank,” he says. “10/10.”

Note, though: He doesn’t want anyone sending him Sweet Tarts.

“I heard that happened to Justin Bieber,” he explains. “Not that I’m anywhere near as cool as he is. But apparently, he said, ‘Oh, I love this candy,’ and people sent it to him, and then he got sick and tired of it. Like a song that you play over and over again.”

He’s built a reputation on coming-of-age romantic comedies. But he wants to branch out, he says—to writing and directing and producing, but also to more tactile arts, like the visual arts space.

“I act, but I’m not necessarily an actor,” he explains. “Acting is just the first thing people see when they look at me. So I’d like to do more things.”

He hopes to use his platform for what he calls “many” social issues close to his heart; he says he has a confidential project in the works within the nonprofit sector and hopes to figure out a way to fix what he calls a North American culture that “needs shifting.”

He also has a lot to say about young men and their responsibilities to themselves and to women as they grow up and become active participants in today’s social climate.

“[Men] weren’t just born misogynists! We were taught these ethics and morals,” he says. “And it is a gender thing because clearly one gender has been intimately oppressed for far longer than the other. It’s about time that we step the fuck up and have reverence and respect for one another.”

Centineo is reminded he has another call to make in a few minutes. But he recalls that I have a friend with a birthday the next day, and asks me to tell her he says happy birthday.

I tell him teasingly that I understand why he makes women swoon.

“Oh, gawwwd,” he drawls with good natured tones. “Stop it!”

But I want to know why women swoon over Kavinsky.

“Mmmm,” Centineo hums. “He’s young, he’s athletic, he’s sensitive, and emotionally available. And he cares. He’s going through something with his family, and he cares about what Lara Jean is going through. And I think he’s just a really good guy.”

We trade pleasantries and he murmurs a farewell: “Thanks, love.”

I sit there for a minute, thinking about how in a way, I’d just had a conversation with Peter Kavinsky. I’d gabbed on the phone to Jamey, getting to know him as Sierra Burgess had.

But where Kavinsky and Jamey are fictional, and becoming less-prominent names on our daily social media scrolls, Noah Centineo is here, and he’s the real deal, and—despite 2018 coming to an end—he’s not going anywhere. And for fans, producers, and all the girls he’s loved before, that makes all the difference.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Sophie Van Bastelaer on Twitter.

]]>
43959wSophie van BastelaerSarah BermantvNETFLIXentertainmentVICE Internationalnoah centineo2018's boyfriendPeter Kavinsky
<![CDATA[This Photographer Uses Their Camera as a Key to the Private Lives of Others]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ev7zdm/this-photographer-uses-their-camera-as-a-key-to-the-private-lives-of-othersFri, 14 Dec 2018 15:18:22 +0000 Music for My Eyes is the second part of Grace Ahlbom's zine series, produced with with Dashwood Books in New York City. Traveling to London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Reykjavík, Tokyo, and Venice reaffirmed the role of photography as a means of access to people and places that Ahlbom otherwise might not have. Ahlbom finds subjects from around the world through mutual friends and Instagram. The fondness the subjects have for Ahlbom become apparent in the selection of images in both zines.

I spoke to them about the project below and what considerations they like to make when shooting people close to them.

VICE: What's the time period for these photos? Was there a particular moment when this project began?
Grace Ahlbom: The time period for the series is about two years, which is exciting because it’s still rather new to me. After graduating from Pratt Institute, all I wanted to do was figure out a way to travel and be able to see the world through my lens. I started shooting images from this series while on a trip to Reykjavík, Iceland, with my friend Julian Klincewicz. The first hour into our trip we realized that we were both Virgos, and after that, I knew we were going to be able to work great together. We are both meticulous in our own ways. Julian also gets the same adrenaline rush I do when we really want a photograph to work. We would get up early or drive out to our location to chase—literally, chase—the last moments of light. Our ability to push each other is essential in a travel companion.

What considerations do you make while documenting your friends?
Normally, in documentary youth photography, you don’t want people to look overly put together or staged. You want them to look like real people as opposed to actors. In my more recent work, I approach my subjects in a different way because I focus on the fictive aspect. While documenting my friends, I usually have them act something out or pretend they’re having a conversation with someone. Most times they'll tell me that they don't know how to act, but I don't believe you need to know how to act to perform something you already do naturally for the camera. Often, I'll ask them to reenact something I've seen them do before, so I know that I'm not asking them to do anything drastically out of character.

Why did you make it a series versus one cohesive book?
It’s funny to mention one cohesive book, because I recently asked David, the owner, to set an edition of each zine aside for us to expand on in the future. I am aiming for the zines to be read as a set that fit together seamlessly, although they were published at different times. Once I feel the set is complete I imagine potentially binding all of the signatures together and making one cohesive special edition book. The paper stocks and printing techniques of each zine are different, which is a quality I’m excited about for the final book. I like when publications are what I call a “hybrid zine”—playing with both fine art book and zine qualities. Essentially printing a publication professionally and then having it bound at Staples, or vice versa.

Can you break down one of your favorite images?
My favorite spread from the zine is the one with a portrait of my friend Joe Skilton in London Fields with his hair dyed exactly like David Bowie’s in movie The Man Who Fell to Earth juxtaposed with a found still life from a barbershop’s storefront I passed by in Venice, Italy. The window display looks like a surrealist totem to masculinity, something maybe Salvador Dali would have designed if he were a barber. These two images coming together as one start a conversation in my mind of idolization, fan culture, relics, shrines and their relationship to consumerism and boredom. Masculinity has such a culturally obsessive hold on our society, and in so many parts of the world.

1544459267425-AHLBOM_SELF_PORTRAIT_11_GRAIN

Check out more of Grace's work here. You can buy their book here.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

]]>
ev7zdmElizabeth RenstromAlex NorciaPhotographyPhotosFRIENDSzineportraituregrace ahlbom
<![CDATA[Your Cart Is Empty]]>https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/yw73vk/your-cart-is-empty-v25n4Fri, 14 Dec 2018 15:00:00 +0000 This story appears in VICE Magazine's Burnout and Escapism Issue. Click HERE to subscribe.

I needed to buy a suede brush. I own a pair of boots that required a little TLC, and after some light research, found that a suede brush was the tool to do the job.

I would go on to spend several hours spread over a couple days during the fall of 2016 trying to track one down. I tried multiple drugstores but found no suede brush, just some unimpressively small shoe polish kits, jammed in the space between aisles at Duane Reade. My local shoe repair shop closed before I could get there after work. And so I turned to Amazon, spent $7.28 on a Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Care Kit, and, slightly more slowly than you can say “prime,” it was delivered to my place of business.

Despite my initial hustle, no satisfaction followed. I had done the work to get the Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Care Kit, but not work that felt good. I spent money I had earned and my time to find this item. But the effort I put in to actually buy it was minimal—I didn’t even have to make sure I was home when it was delivered—and my sense of accomplishment equaled that. I had done something that was supposed to make my life easier, and it might have, but the next step that I assumed would follow—happiness—eluded me. Shopping online had saved me the valuable commodity of time, but in truth, I’d just spent my time differently, in front of a computer.

Technology is supposed to solve for two simultaneous endeavors: acquiring what we want, and saving time. After all, time is the most valuable commodity we have, to the point where our consideration of it as a type of currency has given it its own term, time affluence. Technology is supposed to make it easier for us to do what we really want to be doing—be around loved ones, go outside, exercise, eat healthier. What better way to simplify life than to distance ourselves from the part of capitalism that ties us to it most of all: the protracted act of physically buying things?

But 2016 Pew study about online shopping found that 65 percent of online shoppers prefer buying things in person when they can, compared with 34 percent of people who prefer online. Something is shifting when we buy without having to physically travel to a store. Some would argue it’s the human interaction that is lost, or the transportation to the buying, or merely the planning to get there in the first place, but maybe there’s something else too: the loss of going about your business in a more active manner, as opposed to a more passive one.

The internet has ostensibly liberated us from the limitations of the 24 hours we have in a day, and rolling waves of studies have been done to figure out what good and bad it has done for us, particularly its impact on consumer culture, which takes up so many of our days. The same Pew study found that most Americans don’t shop online constantly: “nearly six-in-ten Americans say they buy online less often than a few times a month (37%) or they never make any online purchases (20%).”

These numbers shifted in the direction you’d think they would the younger the respondents were. And the trend among our country’s largest, most successful companies is to offer what young people want, and make not going to the store as easy as possible. Companies like Blue Apron (which not only preps your food but brings it to you and tells you how to cook it) or Amazon (which sells you anything you need whenever you need it) are accommodating not just our present, but a future in which the majority of our society is full of formerly young people who want it Right Now.

We are driven to force as much leisure into our lives as possible—it’s what the rich do, after all. The basic thinking seems to be that we keep ourselves busy so we can achieve our deepest wishes, and allow ourselves to do what we really want, which is often nothing (think of the archetype of the billionaire CEO whose workdays are packed to the gills but who also takes lavish vacations). But in 2018, researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the National University of Singapore’s Business School proposed that our true motive is actually the reverse: “that people pursue goals in order to engage in busyness.”

In one experiment, professors Adelle X. Yang and Christopher K. Hsee had study participants fill out a survey and told them they could drop it off in one of two locations: nearby, but they would have to wait 15 minutes, or an immediate dropoff at a site that was a 12- to 15-minute walk away round-trip. Half the participants were given identical rewards upon completing each task, either dark or milk chocolate. The other half were told that one location had dark and the other milk (the “distribution of flavors was counterbalanced,” the researchers note):

When the chocolate flavors were identical at the two locations, most participants (68%) chose to drop the survey at the nearby location and wait idly afterwards. But when the chocolate flavors were different, most participants (59%) chose to drop the survey at the faraway location. Moreover, those who dropped off the survey at the faraway location were significantly happier than those who dropped off the survey at the nearby location.

“To sum up, people dread idleness yet were not willing to engage in busyness unless they could justify the busyness with a purpose,” Yang and Hsee wrote. They expanded on the idea, exploring how, in an increasingly technological world, humans choose what activities to spend their time on. Being too busy, whether that’s because you’re rich or poor, cannot end in happiness. But, they wrote, “As we move forward, it ought to be understood that the relative affluence of time does not guarantee the ultimate freedom of human existence, but rather escalates the need for purposeful busyness.”

Other research has suggested that spending money on things that will save time brings more happiness than the objects themselves, because those who do it feel less pressure to get things done. “People often complain of being in a time bind not only because they are objectively busy, but also because they perceive a lack of control over their time,” researchers wrote in the study, published in 2017 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But how much time we are saving, and what we should do with it, is a different story. “Ironically, spending too much money on time-saving services could undermine perceptions of personal control, by leading people to infer that they are unable to handle any daily tasks, potentially reducing well-being,” the researchers added.

Recently, I went to lunch with my friend Allison. At the end of the meal, I picked up her bag for her and found that it was surprisingly heavy. It turned out she’d gone to the bank to pick up sleeves to roll her spare change in, and was returning said change rolls for deposit, an activity I used to love as a child for its soothing repetitiveness, but assumed had gone the way of depositing checks in person. I asked her why she didn’t just take her money to a Coinstar. “They take a cut!” she told me. “Plus, I like the activity of rolling coins.”

“Increasingly these days, one person’s errands have become another person’s occupation,” Joan Kron wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 1990, a decade before Craigslist came to New York City and almost two before TaskRabbit was created. The people she was profiling were, if it was not obvious, rich, but writing today, her statement would largely stand, perhaps amended slightly to “one person’s errands have become a website’s responsibility to outsource to individuals the original person will never meet” (though that’s hardly very pithy). Given that most errands involve financial transactions, it’s that connection to purposefulness that seems key.

Purchasing online is supposed to make us feel as if we’re liberated from the reins of society that prevent us from doing the things we love to do, but we’re as tethered as we ever have been—maybe even more so because we think we’re not—without the active nature of the process. As with most things, there’s some happy medium we need to find, between using tools to balance our lives and detaching ourselves from what fills our days with meaning. To achieve freedom, we’d need to leave the system entirely, but if we’re in it and expect success, we must be truly in it.

“In busyness, time generates happiness, as long as it is used toward a purpose, even a feebly justifiable one,” Yang and Hsee wrote in their study. Or, as Charlotte Ford, a socialite and etiquette adviser (and a great-granddaughter of the mass production innovator Henry Ford) explained to the Times Magazine 32 years ago, “I like having my little list and crossing items off. It sort of makes you feel like you’re moving along. Getting things done.” Finding that suede brush.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

]]>
yw73vkKate DriesAnkita RaoTechnologyamazonVICE MagazineTimeConsumerismonline shoppingconvenience storesThe Burnout and Escapism Issuev25n4