De Niro’s empty-ass apartment right on the water in Heat is an ideal.
De Niro’s empty-ass apartment right on the water in Heat is an ideal.
Anonymous asked: What's on your reading list?
I just recently finished Another Country by James Baldwin and Stoner by John Williams, both of which I really liked, and I’m now almost finished with this book of short stories I picked up used at Bart’s Books, a great outdoor bookstore in Ojai you should visit if you’re ever in the area. I’m sad for the story collection to come to an end because I’ve loved it. It’s got some Mary Gaitskill (who is just so good and funny) and Andre Dubus and Jamaica Kincaid and Barry Hannah. I hadn’t read much of Hannah’s work before this and now I’m on a hunt for everything of his I can find. His story in this collection, “Testimony of Pilot,” has probably been my favorite thus far.
After that I’m reading Choire Sicha’s book while dipping in and out of this new collection of Ellen Willis essays that my friend Nona Willis Aronowitz edited and for which I wrote a section introduction. All are recommended!
Anonymous asked: Just finished reading The New Jim Crow. Do you have any good book recommendations that are in the same vein? P.S. Looking forward to the day you finally write a book.
Ha ha ha. Are you my agent?
Slavery by Another Name is in the same vein as New Jim Crow. It’s both a book and a documentary, which you can watch online here for free.
Anonymous asked: You’re an amazing writer. Keep doing what you’re doing. Never stop. You’ve truly inspired me to pursue a career in writing. Best of luck in all your future endeavors. <3
Thank you. I luh yah.
Anonymous asked: What advice would you give a young writer who's just starting out and trying to find a voice/style? I haven't studied English/writing/journalism in college and sometimes feel extremely unsure about where to start with building my portfolio.
The best advice I’ve got for you right now is to not give a shit that you haven’t studied this profession, because that doesn’t disqualify you from being good. For voice, read a lot and write a lot wherever you can, and then never, ever, ever stop thinking that your words are important just because you don’t have a piece of paper saying so.
Anonymous asked: hey, cord. really enjoy your writing! i was curious, what websites and/or blogs do you visit daily/consider essential reading (other than gawker, ha)? thanks!
Hi, thank you.
Telling you what websites I look at every day is boring because they’re the same ones everyone else looks at every day, and I don’t really think they’re “essential” to my life. I’m not sure I subscribe to the idea that there is such a thing as essential reading. Or, if there is, what’s essential for me is changing constantly. Sometimes I’ll go away on vacation, ignore all news, and read only novels written in the 1950s, and that will seem essential. Sometimes I’ll wake up and devour NYTimes.com before 8 AM, and that will feel essential. Sometimes a post from a stranger on Tumblr will be the best thing I read all week, including the stuff published in all the important magazines and newspapers. Probably one of the most “essential” outlets in the world today is the AP, and doing a deep read of that website can feel like watching paint dry.
I figure what’s essential is deciding what you’re lacking in the moment and then feeding yourself on that. Easily the most inessential website I look at regularly is a blog I stumbled upon that documents a man and his partner’s trips to the grocery store and their restaurant dinners. That’s all it is, pretty much: pictures of their chain restaurant meals, pictures of the grocery store, and pictures of their dog, with short captions accompanying each photo. It is such a boring blog and it makes me feel a little uneasy to read it sometimes, but I look at it probably twice a week, and in those times it’s essential.
Anonymous asked: Hey Cord, I'm a freelance writer transitioning from safe, sterile marketing copy into the more editorial, opinionated, long-form side of things. I know I'll channel a lot of my own perspective into the words I write, and I realize I'll probably incite anger or irritation somewhere along the way. I love your writing and share most of your viewpoints, so I'm wondering: how do you deal with it when you've seriously pissed people off? Is there a phrase or mindset that brings you back to center?
I can’t believe I’m about to quote fucking Ricky Gervais, but here is an important thing to remember if you’re going to start putting your opinions on the internet for money: “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re in the right.”
One of the most frustrating things about writing for the internet is how often you’re exposed to the fact that the Default Demeanor Setting online seems to be seething outrage. Depending on the topics you choose to discuss, I imagine you’ll find pretty quickly that there are entire groups of people reading things in bad faith seemingly in order to get angry about what they just read and gin up fury in the comments section or on Twitter. You need to let that stuff slide off your back, which is very hard to do, especially when you’re just starting out and especially when the attacks become personal (I’ve had people question my authenticity because of the lightness of my skin and say that they bet I don’t have any black friends). “Wow, maybe I am an awful piece of shit,” you may start to think to yourself. In those times remember: Just because someone is mad at you doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong.
Things get even more difficult when sometimes, amid all the anger, there will be someone who actually has a very good and rational dissenting opinion about what you’ve written. Figuring out how to distinguish between the lunatics who just want to scream at you and the people who want to talk to you and improve your worldview to make the world better can sometimes be hard when sifting through the comments on a piece, particularly because getting yelled at by a lot of strangers can make you hypersensitive and temporarily unable to think clearly. There’s no perfect way to go about this, but my friend and former colleague Ann Friedman devised a handy chart that may help. Another quick rule of thumb is this: Whenever someone who disagrees with me writes me an email or calls me on the phone, I always see that as an act done in better faith than a person delivering 10 points of contention at me via 140-character bits on Twitter, making sure to put a period in front of my name so that everyone can see that they disagree with me. (To be fair, there are a lot of people I respect and think are smart who use Twitter as a debate forum, but I just can’t fathom ever doing that and not feeling indulgent/embarrassed.)
Anyway, one way to avoid a lot of this headache is to keep in mind that you don’t have to have an opinion about things, even major news stories. I know it sounds crazy, but you really don’t. In a world in which rapid content production has become the name of the game, churning out opinions about everything in culture is now some people’s meal ticket, which has led to a lot of half-baked op-eds that look very silly in retrospect—I know this because I’ve written some myself, and they’re always regrettable. If you don’t really care about something, or if you don’t feel comfortable writing about it, don’t write about it, because if you do you’re going to feel foolish when the internet shows you just how many people care very deeply about this opinion you formulated 15 minutes before sitting down to write it out.
Good luck, friend. Freelancing is hard. I hope you do great.
Watching this Canadian doctor son this American senator makes me laugh:
BURR: On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? Do you know?
MARTIN: I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.