Paul VanDerWerf. Wikimedia Commons.
Yes, that was Andy Warhol eating a Burger King hamburger in that Super Bowl commercial, but he preferred McDonald’s: “In a recent interview, Leth reminisced about Warhol’s reaction to ‘the Danes with the crazy hamburger project.’ ‘When he saw the three hamburgers I had ordered — one from Burger King and two neutral products — he said, ‘Where’s the McDonald’s? … It’s the nicest design.’”
A 19-year-old college student in Michigan drives more traffic to BuzzFeed worldwide than nearly anyone else, and she does it—or at least did—by creating quizzes…for free: “The thought of getting paid for the quizzes never crossed her mind — until she saw a blog post by Matthew Perpetua, BuzzFeed’s former director of quizzes, who was among the 200 employees laid off by the digital media company last week. ‘You might be wondering — wait, why would they lay you off? You were doing the quizzes, and that brings in a lot of money! Well, that is true,’ Perpetua wrote. ‘But another thing that is true is that a LOT of the site’s overall traffic comes from quizzes and a VERY large portion of that traffic comes from a constant flow of amateur quizzes made by community users.’ He then referenced one such super-user — a Michigan teen who he says was the site’s ‘second highest traffic driver worldwide.’”
Forty mummies have been discovered in a burial chamber south of Cairo.
The invention of the modern dog: “Breed remains the most fundamental way we have of approaching dogs: it is the beginning and often the end of what a dog is, what defines them. It is almost always a shorthand for their personalities: golden retrievers are good with kids, Labradors energetic and obedient, pit bulls loyal and devoted. But while dogs have been with us for millennia, breeds themselves are fairly new, the very concept the invention of 19th-century England, according to The Invention of the Modern Dog. “The change to dogs being seen principally in terms of breed and as a number of distinct breeds began in the mid-Victorian period and was profound,” the authors argue; while we weren’t traditionally accustomed to think of dogs in terms of breeds, once the concept was introduced, it became the sole determining criteria of a dog’s personality — and its economic value… Prior to the mid-19th century, dogs were classified by function, abilities, and health.”
The latest volume of T. S. Eliot’s letters opens with the poet responding to an invitation from his goddaughter, Alison Tandy, in the form of a cat poem (“Mr. Possum wishes that his name was Tristram Shandy… so he could reply in poetry to the kind invitation of Miss Alison Tandy…”) and closes with his decision to institutionalize his first wife: “The final crisis is described in a desperate letter from Maurice Haigh-Wood, Vivienne’s brother: ‘V. was found wandering the streets at 5 o’clock this morning…’ he tells Eliot. ‘She [later] asked me if it was true that you had been beheaded…’ Eliot sends the papers to have her committed to a psychiatric hospital in Stoke Newington, north London, where she died in 1947.”
Essay of the Day:
In The Believer, Vauhini Vara revisits the beginning of the tiny house movement and explains why more people don’t live in them:
“The ubiquity of tiny houses on-screen and their rareness in the real world have together had a Baudrillardian effect on public perception, creating the inaccurate impression that the movement is populated by privileged influencers who are insensitive to the fact that most people living in small spaces are forced into them by economic hardship. Perhaps as a result, over the past couple of years there has been some cultural backlash against tiny houses. ‘Going tiny’ implies that the person who is moving into a tiny house is doing so to escape their previous life of excess: They are coming from one place and going to another,’ Doree Shafrir wrote in a much-shared BuzzFeed article. ‘This has made it, by definition, a middle-class movement…. And so the tiny house movement has an inherent privilege built in: Going tiny is a choice.’
“However, most tiny-house residents are not particularly well-off. While the poorest people tend not to buy tiny houses—purchasing any home requires capital—tiny living is popular among the widening group of working-class Americans who might have owned a traditional home a generation ago but have found themselves with bank statements or credit histories that have made that choice impracticable. Many are older, single women. The median price of a home in the US is $220,000, which most people finance with a mortgage. Tiny homes usually sell for $40,000 to $90,000 without land, and buyers typically pay cash or finance them with a property loan.
“After he pioneered the tiny-living trend, Jay Shafer married, had two sons, and moved into a conventional house, keeping a tiny one in the backyard as a showroom and office space. Since then, he’s fallen on hard times. He left Tumbleweed after a dispute with his business partner, went through an uncongenial divorce, and finally became homeless. ‘I’m now living in a pigpen,’ he told me—a shed, shared with pigs, in a friend’s salvage yard. Lately, though, he’s been designing a new home, and this time he’s embracing the affordable-housing angle: ‘I’m not going to let myself live on the streets ever again, so I designed a one-thousand-dollar house.’ That’s the cost of the shell; the rest, including appliances, will add on thousands more. To turn a profit, Shafer figures he’ll sell the house for a bit under $10,000. It measures 50 square feet.
“One warm afternoon last winter, LaBarre drove me up a steep, ribbon-like road shaded by Ponderosa pines. The houses at Peak View Park were planted a couple of yards apart, on a slant, like cars in an angled parking lot. They were diverse in style—a log cabin, a refurbished shipping container, Craftsman-style bungalows—but unified by an appealing minimalism. Several of them looked down through the pines onto the four-lane state road connecting Colorado Springs to the ski resorts. On the far side of the road was a Walmart; beyond that rose Pikes Peak. To lease a piece of this land, most residents paid $500 to $600 a month. Utilities were included; the house itself was not.
“The people of Peak View did not, on the whole, resemble the young aesthetes who appear on HGTV. The hundred-plus residents included a school bus driver, a baker, retirees, and children. Courtney Cunard, a forty-year-old aesthetician, had been raised in trailer parks around Los Angeles by a single mother who died when she was thirteen; she had promised herself she would own a home one day, but her mortgage applications kept getting rejected. She had been living on friends’ couches and in an aunt’s garage before discovering Peak View’s alternative route to homeownership.”
Photo: Castle in the Dolomites
Poem: Rainer Marie Rilke, “The Last Evening,” translated by Susan McLean
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