All posts tagged: Culture

Why Don’t We Trust the Institutions We Create?

In June of 2017, the Gallup organization conducted its “CONFIDENCE IN INSTITUTIONS” poll, which it has been conducting pretty much every year since 1973. And this year, despite what you might expect would be some sort of pre-apocalyptic low water mark in America’s trust in institutions, our trust in general went up. Specifically, it went up 3 percent. The poll measures confidence in 14 major public institutions — from public schools to banks to labor unions to the Supreme Court to police to big business to small business to newspapers to television news to churches to the military to the medical system and, yes, measuring trust in Congress and the presidency as well. The fine people at Gallup found that in 2016 just 32 percent of the American people on average said they trusted these institutions. A year later — this is THIS YEAR — we now trust these institutions 3 percent more or a WHOPPING 35 percent. Now, you may be thinking — as I was when I encountered this data — that WHOA, that 35 percent …

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Are Journalists Allowed to Be Fans?

When I was starting out my career in the ’90s working as a business journalist, the rule was always be in the background of (and not part of) the story. The first-person voice-y thing was for the columnists — and if you were doing that and weren’t one, you were clearly a novice reporter in her first weeks on the job. Worse, if you were a fan of a subject’s work or their mission, showing your hand beyond a detached view of why their company might be good for society — or, really, shareholders — was a nonstarter. This went double if you were a person in her ’20s covering complex topics. Note that this was before the ubiquity of blogging and disruption. The old order reigned, and it didn’t exactly revere lack of years of experience and naïve exuberance. In turn, neither did I. #Judgy This worldview of mine took a little time to coalesce. One incident that helped it along happened when I returned from a reporting trip where I was trailing an entrepreneur who …

A “Young American” Remembers David Bowie

Bowie was my everything music – the alpha and omega. He was the artist who singlehandedly turned me on to sound. So when he passed yesterday, I was demolished. In his last album Blackstar, Bowie continued to tweak musical boundaries, creating a bleaker version of himself — a Major Tom still in outer space.  In hindsight, his customarily freaky and brilliant videos clearly hint at his coming demise. I wrote a little something a few years ago for my friend Nancy Davis Kho’s Midlife Mixtape site about one of my favorite Bowie albums that was still in heavy rotation — Young Americans. On the occasion of his passing, I thought I’d share that here. I’ll miss you David. Gone but never, ever forgotten — your legacy lives on in every musician and fan. ** As an 8-year-old in mid ‘70s Philadelphia, I’d rise most school days to the snap and crackle of WFIL-AM, and the Bay City Rollers, Starland Vocal Band or Hot Chocolate imploring me to get up, “you sexy thing.” Whatever that meant. (I also used to sing, “Voulez vous couchez avec …

Aaliyah, J-Love and Britney: My 20s Pop Culture Education

“When you grow up, your heart dies.” When I first heard mop-topped goth girl Alison Reynolds utter this dismal pronouncement in John Hughes’ 1985 now-classic The Breakfast Club, it sent shivers down my spine. Like her, I was a teenager at the time and imagining myself in college — forget about later on, as part of the work force — was enough to make me break out in zits. But the idea of spending the subsequent 75 years or so wandering the earth as a bored, numb, jaded adult? That was downright terrifying. Today, at 44 (an age my teen self couldn’t fathom; back then, I thought 30 was ancient), I can honestly say I’m almost as unjaded, wide-eyed and goofy — not to mention, passionate about my obsessions — as I was as a teen, and I have my 25-year-old self to thank for it. That’s how old I was when I hit my stride as a teen magazine editor. I knew I’d wanted to be a journalist since age 11, but “teen magazine …

Does This Slang Make Me Look Old?

Recently, I’ve had a lot of talks with friends my age (we’re all generally around 21) about getting older — something we know a fair amount about. Okay, I lied about the parenthetical part of that intro. We’re all pushing 40. And we’ve found ourselves in that awkward “not-old, definitely-not-all-that-young-anymore” phase. Well, not all that young unless we’re hanging out with, say, a random gang of 80-year-olds. Which I really should do more often because my skin would probably look amazing in comparison. Just kidding. That’s rude thing to say. Okay, not kidding. I thought it and meant it. I’m rude. Anyway, we’re deeply in that “woah, did you see so-and-so from high school on Facebook? How do they look so OLD” part of our show. Followed by the requisite pause… Then… “Do I look that old?” Then the rush of mutual assurances and “Oh my God, please, you look amazing,” various accolades doled out to our favorite Korean skin care products, agreements that the efficacy of moisturizer is directly proportional to how overpriced it …

Smiley Poop, Unicorns, Middle Fingers: What We Talk About When We Emoji

“Look at my taco emoji,” my friend said last week. “Look at it!” “I can’t see it. I’d have to upgrade my phone. The last time I did that, the battery life on the device I use to do every important task in my life dropped to nothing and I’m scared to try it again.” “A taco emoji, Laurie. And a unicorn. A middle finger.” And this is how I came to spend last Monday night watching the Apple 9.1 upgrade fail twice, appear to turn my phone into a terrifying brick and then, suddenly, magically work five hours before my alarm was due to go off. Tiny text tacos and unicorns and profane hand gestures – such are my priorities today. It’s fine. I can own it, along with the truth that the first emoji I sent when the phone came back to life in the morning was a unicorn. And it was very, very satisfying. I was a relatively late adopter of emojis, Japanese symbols that are meant to clarify meaning in text. They’ve been …

Bye Felicia — It’s Not Your Slang Anymore

“Terry Gross is bae.” “Trey Gowdy’s contour game is on fleek.” Those are two bits of slang I read on social media this week. If you can’t tell, the sentences in which the slang words appear are somewhat dubious. Supposedly, one would do best to use slang words as an instrument, not as a crutch. [pullquote]Slang is the new hip-hop now that hip-hop truly belongs to everyone.[/pullquote] Slang dropping is not like name dropping. Name dropping is: “I was talking about trans-racial adoption with Angelina and Brad the other day…” Slang-dropping is: “I swear, one of my coworkers thinks she’s slaying the email game. But if she ends one more message with ‘Make sense?’ acting like she’s the only one who has a clue, I’m gonna write back, ‘Bye, Felicia.’ I try to be cooperative, but I’m low-key losing all my chill. I am not the one to communicate with like I’m a three-year-old up in these internet streets.” Who knows when or why some words cross over and become slang-stream (slang mainstream), like: Bling: (noun) …

Cockney to Canadian: The Perils of a New Patois

Some epiphanies hit you gently, and some are starkly exposed, like the time a drunk girl on the bus shouted that my eyebrows were “so on fleek” and I had to quickly text my sister for a definition. Did it mean that my eyebrows were so offensive due to my overplucking? Or so on point? (Which, in fact, is what it does mean.) But in asking my Gen Y sister what this word meant, I realized what a relic I had already become. It didn’t help that the moment was memorialized when she Instagrammed it with the hashtags #YouOldAsHell and #Duffer. It wasn’t always like this — I had prided myself on my unusual accent and slang when I moved from London to Vancouver. I was popular for that fleeting first week where new kids are novelties, especially ones with a built in repertoire of British words. I was asked to say “rubbish” almost eleven times at recess while my new friends copied my pronunciation like a wobbly Gwyneth Paltrow in any English film. I …