NYLON · Culture Fashion, beauty, music and pop culture news for today’s young women. April 20, 2018 06:18 AM https://nylon.com/culture https://nylon.com/public/img/favicon/favicon.ico NYLON · Culture https://nylon.com/culture © NYLON Media I, LLC <![CDATA[The Sky’s The Limit For ‘Atlanta’ Writer Stefani Robinson]]> https://nylon.com/articles/stefani-robinson-atlanta-donald-glover 2018-04-19T17:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/stefani-robinson-atlanta-donald-glover \ NYLON en 2018-04-19T17:30:00.000Z The Sky’s The Limit For ‘Atlanta’ Writer Stefani Robinson culture, television

The Sky’s The Limit For ‘Atlanta’ Writer Stefani Robinson

Jewel Wicker
2018-04-19T17:30:00.000Z

Donald Glover says he didn’t realize black people actually live in Marietta, Georgia until recently. After all, Marietta has long had a heavily white majority—though that's rapidly changing. 

But while Marietta and the rest of Cobb County is expected to become “majority minority” in about four years, when 25-year-old Atlanta writer Stefani Robinson moved there from Hong Kong at around eight years old, the area wasn’t regularly associated with black people.

“I enjoyed growing up there,” Robinson says now. “It was a very safe area. It was a nice place to grow up—but it was predominately white, so I definitely felt a bit uncomfortable as a person of color [living] there.”

Robinson channels this experience in the writing room for Glover’s hit FX series Atlanta. Currently in its second season, the "Robbin Season," the show focuses on cousins Earn and Alfred (portrayed by Glover and Brian Tyree Henry) as they attempt to escape poverty and break into the music industry, and is acclaimed for its genre-bending approach, which features hyperreal scenes about the black experience in Atlanta.

“I had a completely different upbringing than what you see on the show. I spent most of my time in white spaces,” Robinson says. “Atlanta is very big and broad and it means a lot of different things to different people.”

When Glover was searching for writers for the series, he says he was interested in Robinson’s perspective. “She just had a real point of view which is hard to have when you’re as young as Stefani,” he says. “It’s hard to find people like that. I hired her on the spot.”

Robinson is the only woman on the writing team, but Glover says he tries to make sure she’s not just there to provide a perspective for Van (Zazie Beetz), the only featured female character on Atlanta. (Beetz recently said one of her goals for season two was to see her character developed outside of her relationship to the men on the show.)

“She’s the only woman in the room so I try not to just be like, ‘What do you think Van would think?'” Glover says. “We try to have just honest conversation about perspectives, gendered or not. But she [also] does a really good job of giving the [gendered] perspective.”

Glover says one of his favorite examples of Robinson’s work aired in season one. Robinson wrote an episode, “Juneteenth,” where Earn and Van attend a party for the holiday, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., hosted by an elitist black woman and her wealthy white husband—who is constantly trying to showcase his love and knowledge of black culture. The episode was inspired by Robinson’s own experience with Juneteenth celebrations in Marietta, which her mom sometimes volunteered for.

“[Juneteenth is] such a massive thing for such a specific group of people,” she says. “I still find it incredibly fascinating.” 

So far in season two, Robinson has expertly captured the black salon experience in “Barbershop,” when Alfred spends the entire day just trying to get a haircut by his jack-of-all-trades barber. Before cutting Paper Boi’s hair, the Barber visits his girlfriend, offers Paper Boi reheated Zaxbys, steals lumber from a construction site, lectures his son for skipping school, and commits a hit and run. In the final scene, Alfred revisits the barber shop to get his hair cut by someone new, only to realize it's worth it to deal with his old barber’s antics, because the barber knows just how to cut his hair. Robinson’s portrayal of this is insightful. Black hair is a source of pride, and so having it done correctly is worth a few inconveniences.

Even when she’s not credited with writing a specific episode, Robinson is contributing ideas behind the scenes. An idea for a season two episode (“Helen”) that takes place in Helen, Georgia, a touristy mountain city designed to look like a Bavarian alpine town, was formed when Robinson mentioned attending a yearbook camp there. In the episode, the tension and eventual breakup of Earn and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Van is heightened by the fact that they’re in a predominately white space that is unfamiliar to Earn.

“I never thought that me going to yearbook camp was going to be helpful in any kind of way,” Robinson says.

With the goal of becoming a writer, Robinson left Marietta to attend Emerson College and study screenwriting in Boston. After college, she moved Los Angeles with the hopes of landing a writing gig but took a job as an assistant at a talent agency in the meantime.

Around this time, Glover had created Atlanta and was looking to add a woman to the writing team. Robinson had only been in writers' rooms briefly, including as an intern for Comedy Central for a few months during college, but she submitted an original pilot to FX and it somehow got into Glover’s hands.

“I [had] no experience. I was barely out of college,” Robinson says. “I was just sort of happy that FX and Donald Glover were going to read anything that I’d done.”

Since Atlanta, Robinson has signed a production deal with FX to develop additional shows.

Despite her success, she says she’s still having trouble accepting her new reality. Like many successful women, she says she suffers from imposter syndrome, and often feels like she’s tricking people into thinking she’s talented and experienced.  

But Glover says he’s always been “super impressed” with Robinson. In addition to Atlanta, the two were working together on Deadpool before FX cancelled the animated series in March. (“We’re probably legally not allowed to talk about it,” Glover says.)

“I’ll probably always want to work with her,” he continues. “I think she’s in high demand in Hollywood because she has a perspective no one else has and she’s really good at a young age. She can probably get whatever job she wants right now, but what’s cool about her is she focuses on the quality of the project.”

Robinson says she can’t elaborate just yet on what future projects might look like, but she says she’s interested in making art that is “multifaceted” and tells the stories of people who aren’t often represented on screen.

“I’m passionate about telling stories that feel classic but also specific,” she says.

For that, Atlanta has been a great launching pad. The sky's the limit for what's next.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[Everything You Need To Know About CBD]]> https://nylon.com/articles/guide-to-cbd 2018-04-19T15:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/guide-to-cbd \ NYLON en 2018-04-19T15:30:00.000Z Everything You Need To Know About CBD culture

Everything You Need To Know About CBD

Jenna Igneri
2018-04-19T15:30:00.000Z

In case you haven’t noticed, CBD is having a moment.

Popping up in health food stores, beauty products, and even your local latte spot, CBD is quickly becoming the latest buzzy wellness trend, joining the ranks of adaptogens like turmeric or reishi mushroom.

However buzzy it may currently be, though, not everyone has a true understanding of what CBD is. Sure, it's known that it’s derived from cannabis plants, but is it anything like marijuana? Are we going to get high?

We had a lot of questions, and with 4/20 right around the corner, we figured why not dive in? We turned to the experts to get the full rundown on CBD and its many benefits.

First of all, what exactly is CBD, and what is it supposed to do? As Sean Akhavan, chief science officer of MedMen, explains, CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the more well known of about 100 different phytochemicals found in the cannabis plant, known as phytocannabinoids. “It’s associated with some purported therapeutic effects—pain management, anxiety reduction, improved sleep, and decreased inflammation,” he explains. “CBD has been shown to increase levels of anandamide, a neurotransmitter and the main cannabinoid that is produced by the human body, which can reduce pain and inflammation through increased activation of endocannabinoid receptors. Additionally, it also increases levels of adenosine, another neurotransmitter that appears to reduce inflammation.”

In addition to reducing pain and inflammation in the body, it’s also known to have relaxing and anti-anxiety effects. A number of studies have proven that CBD is a promising treatment for many forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

CBD can be found in many forms, but most commonly tinctures to be taken sublingually and in vape form, but you can also smoke it, apply it topically, and even take it in capsule form. Though, in terms of effectiveness, it’s all about absorption. “Absorption, or bioavailability, is key to effectiveness,” says Ashley Grace of The H. Hemp Company. “Many hold the liquid products under their tongue before swallowing to increase absorption rates. Because of this, pills are generally less bioavailable. However, water soluble hemp CBD [such as the kind found in the brand’s Breath Spray] works more quickly in any form.”

And, because many forms of CBD don’t contain any THC, or only contain trace amounts, it won’t get you high.

Cannabis is only legal in a small number of states in the U.S. But is CBD legal? It gets a little tricky, but it all depends where it’s derived from.

As you may know, hemp and cannabis are basically the same plant. While cannabis is, for the most part, not legal in most states (especially for recreational use), hemp, which has no psychoactive qualities as it contains less than .3 percent THC, is legal in all 50 states. CBD can be derived from both plants, but hemp-based CBD is the only one that’s technically legal. Still, its legality can depend on the state you’re in.

“Hemp-based cannabidiol [CBD] is federally legal because of the exemption for hemp-based products from the Controlled Substances Act laid out by the Ninth Circuit’s HIA v. DEA ruling in 2004. Meanwhile, individual states are free to pass their own laws regarding cannabis products including hemp-based CBD; those should, of course, be respected as well,” says Jenelle Kim, founder of JBK Wellness Labs and formulator at HempMeds.

CBD also reaps many skin-care benefits, which is why you’ll notice it’s becoming quite the buzzy beauty ingredient in creams and oils of all sorts. As Kim explains, CBD oil is filled with vitamins A, D, and E and contains high levels of essential fatty acids, which all work to enhance skin health and overall youthfulness. It can soothe, calm, and hydrate the skin while helping to prevent damage, premature and fine lines, and puffy, sagging skin.

Sounds like a miracle skin ingredient, huh? Well, it gets better: It’s also known to be extremely effective in preventing acne breakouts. “A study conducted by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology revealed that the endocannabinoid system [a regulatory system found in our bodies—such as in the brain, organs, connective tissue, and more] is critical to the life cycle of basal cells, which make up around 90 percent of the cells in the skin’s epidermis. CBD can be used to affect the output of oils in the skin. Specifically, CBD inhibits the lipid production in skin cells, making it an effective preventative for acne,” says Kim.

And it’s not just acne. Kimberly Dillon, SVP of marketing at Papa & Barkley, explains that patients who have used CBD have found relief in a number of skin conditions, such as dermatitis, rashes, psoriasis, and hair growth disorders. “Of course, more research is needed, but the early studies are promising,” she says.

Additionally, when applied topically to the skin, it can result in relaxing muscles and joints, Grace explains.

So, are there any side effects of CBD? Well, as we mentioned earlier, it doesn’t have any psychoactive properties, therefore it won’t get you stoned. And, no, you can't OD on it. “CBD and other cannabinoids are known to be non-toxic, with no known fatal overdose levels ever reported,” says Dillon.

As Kim explains, there have been some reports of dry mouth, low blood pressure, and drowsiness. However, a research review investigating CBD side effects and safety found that CBD had no adverse physiological effect on heart rate, glucose levels, red blood cell count, vomiting action, body temperature, exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and bloodstream and pH levels.

So, thinking of giving CBD a try for yourself? Not all forms or dosages are right for everyone, so you’ll want to start small to find what works best for you. “A consumer should start with the smallest amount possible to gauge their tolerance level,” says Akhavan. “Everyone reacts differently to cannabis and cannabis-infused products based on metabolism, tolerance levels, or even what you ate beforehand. It is best to go slow and try different products and different amounts to see what works best for you.”

As you would with any other product you’re ingesting or putting on your skin, you’ll want to research the product or brand beforehand. “The key is to make sure that you are buying from a reputable provider that is showing that they test their products for both heavy metals and pesticides, and are also showing the user how many milligrams of cannabinoids they are actually consuming. What’s tricky is that a number of brands tell you how many milligrams of hemp you’re getting, which is not the same thing as CBD—which is what you’re paying for!”

And finally, as Akhavan advises, you should always consult a doctor before adding any supplements or medicine to your diet, including cannabis.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[Toker’s Take: 15 Cute Things To Sate The Stoner In Your Life]]> https://nylon.com/articles/420-gift-guide 2018-04-19T13:00:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/420-gift-guide \ NYLON en 2018-04-19T13:00:00.000Z Toker’s Take: 15 Cute Things To Sate The Stoner In Your Life culture

Toker’s Take: 15 Cute Things To Sate The Stoner In Your Life

Beca Grimm
2018-04-19T13:00:00.000Z

Cannabis is enjoying some mainstream popularity, which, honestly, is a good thing when it comes to shopping. When you wanna buy something to help you get lifted, there are way more options than the seedy head shops of yesteryear (for those residing in or visiting Austin soon, make a point to visit the brick-and-mortar antithesis to this at Catchtilly).

Now that there are tons of highly aesthetically pleasing options available, we rounded up some of the best of what’s out there to help you with all your 4/20 prep.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[7 Weed-Infused Recipes To Try This 4/20]]> https://nylon.com/articles/edible-cannabis-recipes-420 2018-04-18T20:43:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/edible-cannabis-recipes-420 \ NYLON en 2018-04-18T20:43:00.000Z 7 Weed-Infused Recipes To Try This 4/20 culture

7 Weed-Infused Recipes To Try This 4/20

Jenna Igneri
2018-04-18T20:43:00.000Z

4/20 is just days away. Do you know what you’re bringing to the party yet?

If you find yourself itching for something a bit more creative than your typical run-of-the-mill pot brownies, look no further than our 4/20 recipe guide. We turned to the experts—authors of edible cookbooks, founders of pot foodie blogs, and more—to send us their favorite (and definitely not average) recipes.

Below, you’ll find boozy (and non-boozy) cocktails, delectable desserts, and some killer appetizers and main courses. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds (and get lifted).

Happy munchy-ing!

NYLON usesaffiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[Bourgeois Bohemian Days, Or: Learning How To Surf]]> https://nylon.com/articles/how-to-learn-surfing-mexico-punta-de-mita 2018-04-18T17:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/how-to-learn-surfing-mexico-punta-de-mita \ NYLON en 2018-04-18T17:30:00.000Z Bourgeois Bohemian Days, Or: Learning How To Surf culture

Bourgeois Bohemian Days, Or: Learning How To Surf

Kristin Iversen
2018-04-18T17:30:00.000Z

Like drugs or religion, surfing makes you sound stupid when you try to explain its appeal, like you're using the language of idiots, of the devoted. Probably this is because, as is also the case with drugs or religion, a real dedication to surfing could kill you a number of different ways—and not all of them metaphorical. And the specter of death, it reorients you away from the intellectual and into the realm of the visceral. You start to speak in the language of the gut; your words loosen, meanings expand.

Here's how, while standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, surfboard under my arm for the first time, words loosened and meanings expanded.

"You're a good swimmer, yes?"

This is asked of me by Sergio, the surfing instructor at the W Punta de Mita, a luxury hotel and resort in Mexico's Riviera Nayarit; I am there to learn to surf. The only problem is, the waves are "bad."

But what does "bad" mean? I'd been warned the waves were bad before flying from New York City, and I'd taken it to mean that the ocean was flat and that there wouldn't be much upon which to surf. But that's a different kind of bad. The kind of bad that the waves actually were here led to red flags being staked at every pathway that led from the hotel to the beach; the red flags, of course, serving as a warning that it wasn't safe for anyone to swim. Compared to how the waves are in other parts of the world, they weren't that high, maybe. They were mostly cresting at about six to eight feet, though some of them looked to arc up to about 10 or so, which is high for a moving wall of water to be coming right at you. And then another moving wall of water. And then another. The waves were that kind of bad. 

But enough about bad, what does it mean to be good? As in a "good" swimmer, which Sergio thought, yes, I probably was. But was I? My favorite stroke is sidestroke. I hold my nose when I jump into the deep end of a pool. I think that's all that needs to be said about if I'm a "good" swimmer. 

But my words loosened and meanings expanded, and I really wanted to go surfing, because that's what I'd flown across a continent to do, and so I said, "Yes, I'm a pretty good swimmer."

And then I pointed at the man I was with, who also held a surfboard under his arm, and I said, "But him, he's a really good swimmer. Como un pescado. He's a Pisces."

Sergio smiled at me and said, "You, too. You are like a fish, too!"

I wasn't so sure. And so I decided that it was as good a time as any to tell Sergio: "Sergio, I am afraid of the ocean." 

Those words had meaning. About a week after my 17th birthday, in an ocean other than the Pacific, I was pulled out by a current while I was boogie boarding. It was early in the summer, the beach was all but deserted. I could see my brother on the shore, running up and down the sand, looking for someone to help, pausing only to bend over and vomit in fear. I unleashed the boogie board from my wrist and watched it fly out behind me toward the horizon. I turned my eyes back to the shore and tried to swim straight back in, but only found myself growing weaker and weaker, and getting no closer. It could only have been a few minutes before my brother finally found someone, a man who knew enough not to swim out toward me and get pulled in himself, but who waded into the water and waved his arms like an air traffic controller until I understood he wanted me to stop swimming toward the shore and start swimming parallel to it. And so I did, and slowly at first and then all at once I broke free of the riptide, and started making progress, until I got close enough that the man—who was not an air traffic controller, but, rather, just a brave, scared, helpful man—came to me and lifted me out of the water and carried me to the beach, where I lay, unable to move, for some time. The boogie board was brought in by the waves a few hours later.

That was half a lifetime ago for me, and I've been in the ocean countless times since then, but never without some fear, never without some awareness that "the ocean was like an uncaring God, endlessly dangerous, power beyond measure." That's how William Finnegan described it in his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, which is not only one of the best chronicles of surfing, but also of fear, or rather respect.

Finnegan learned to surf as a child in California, but really became a surfer when his family moved to Hawaii, and he was immersed in the state's singular surfing culture. Surfing became a thing that defined Finnegan, a passion that continued as he grew up, traveled the world, and became known for his war reporting for The New Yorker. Through it all, surfing was a constant for Finnegan, even as everything else changed—most notably the places where he and his fellow surfers once experienced desolate stretches of beach and idyllic, uncompromised waters. Where once there was nothing but surf and sand, now there were sprawling condominiums and hotels, populated not by itinerant surfers but by wealthy vacationers who were there to surf, yes, but whose presence was of a wholly different nature than that of the mythologized "surf bum."

The idea of the "surf bum" is an interesting one now; not because it doesn't apply to some, or even most, surfers, but because of how totally impossible it is to imagine the presence of "bums" of any kind in many of the places around the world that are known for being surfing paradises and have more recently become known for catering to luxury-seeking clientele. Mexico's Riviera Nayarit is one of those regions. The incredibly charming towns of Sayulita and San Pancho are famous surfing towns, the type of bohemian paradises that attract expats from around the world and are in possession of an anarchically vibrant, yet simultaneously laid-back vibe. And yet, these towns and the surrounding areas have lost the allure of the secret surfing spot that they once had; they are known, now, with visitors coming from as far as Australia and France to try the waves. This makes an obvious kind of sense, this loss of a secret. The world is smaller than it was only a couple short decades ago, there are no secrets on the internet, and hidden gems get exposed and exploited at a rapid-fire rate.

There are no secrets on the internet... but the ocean is full of secrets... even if the ocean doesn't let you have any secrets, because your only secret is that you're scared, and the ocean will pound that out of you, until you cough it up, the truth stinging the back of your throat... These were the sort of things running through my mind the day I was going to learn to surf. I was able to let these—silly, unhelpful, totally unprofound—things run through my mind because I sat for a while on the shore, watching Sergio go out into the ocean with the Pisces. They were far enough out that the cormorants hunting for breakfast were dive-bombing the water between them and the shore; later, I'd see the cormorants perched up high on spindly branches, completely still, their wings stretched all the way out from their bodies. 

"Why do they sit like that?" I asked.

"To dry out their feathers," said the Pisces.

Before all that, though, I watched the Pisces catch a wave. He did what we'd been taught to do on the sand. He paddled furiously as a wave crested behind him; he grabbed the rails of the surfboard and, in one smooth motion, hopped up onto his feet and into a crouching stance. His hips seemed tense at first, his arms wavered as they spread out; and then everything got loose and open as he stayed up on the wave for an exhilarating four or five seconds, before his feet flipped up and he crashed beneath the water, popping up a moment later with a wide grin on his face, toothy like a shark.

I was ready to go.

Sergio came out of the water, meeting me and walking back into the ocean by my side. 

"Just do what I say, you'll be fine. Did you see him? He's like a fish!" Sergio told me.

"He's a Pisces," I reminded him.

And then he shouted to me: "Duck dive!"

The wave was only about seven feet high; it hadn't broken yet, but I inhaled deeply and dove right into its blue-green face, aiming downward, clutching at the sand with my fingers, then pushing back up and into the air. 

And then again: "Duck dive!"

And then again. 

The waves were, as waves do, coming one after another, breaking big and fast, and sometimes I wouldn't be able to come up for air in between them and stay down, gripping the ocean floor, while the water churned above me. I hadn't yet gotten on my board. These were, I guess, "bad" waves.

But every time I came up, Sergio was there, encouraging me, and we made our way out past one of the breaking points and I got up on my board—or, rather, I got down on it, and into position, to paddle and try and stand. This is where I had a few moments to think, just long enough, in fact, to realize how completely I hadn't been thinking until then, how everything I'd been doing had just been reacting; how every part of my body suddenly felt important, how surfing was a thing that could make you feel whole. Part of the reason, of course, I was able to let go of thinking, let go of my fear, was because I had someone there with me, looking out for me, telling me when to dive, helping steer the nose of my board. A good surfer is using their brain as much as they are using their body, but for me, whose life often feels like one long series of analyses, this was an opportunity to let go of some of that type of thinking, and embrace the barbarism of feeling, and of fear. 

"This is your wave!" Sergio said to me. "Paddle!"

And so I did. I'd like to say I stood up. I'd like to say I rode it in toward the shore, that I was triumphant in the water. But no sooner had I stopped paddling and grabbed the rails, attempting to rise in one smooth motion, it became obvious that I'd been too slow. The wave crashed over me, and I flipped under my board—"Dive!"—and reached for the bottom of the ocean floor, kicking downward. Only, I wasn't able to find it, to feel it; I was yanked backward by a receding wave and tried now to kick up toward the surface. Only I couldn't find that either, because another wave crashed down. I stayed still for what was probably a second but felt like a year. I felt the different pulls of the ocean. I steadied myself, and I found the ground with my feet, and pushed off, breaking through to the surface, and gasping for breath.

"You okay?" Sergio asked.

And I was. My heart was pounding and my body was thrumming with adrenaline, but I was okay. I felt like a kid. I felt free. I just felt.

"Duck dive!"

And I dove again, into the blue-green face of a wave. This time, when I came up, I was still feeling things. I felt depleted.

"I want to go back," I told Sergio.

And so I went back to the beach, and lay on the sand, marveling at this perfect place, where nature meets, okay, commerce, yes, and where the days are definitely less barbarian than they are bohemian (and bourgeois bohemian, at that), but where those sometimes jarring juxtapositions can feel like they're melting away when you're out in the water, and there's nothing to do but think about being out in the water, where a capricious wave or God or both can knock you under and pull you down and have you thanking it, blessing it, for allowing you to come back up and do the whole thing over again. 

***

That night, we walked to the beach and saw the sunset. This part of Mexico is famous for its sunset. If you could buy a sunset, this is the kind that would cost a million dollars. This sunset is so beautiful it's a joke, and what's the point of describing a joke? You only ruin a joke by describing it. Especially when its punchline is: You turn around and see a double rainbow arcing across a silver blue sky, pinned in place by lissome palm trees. And just like there was more than one rainbow, there was more than one punchline. The other punchline: This once-in-a-lifetime sunset, it's going to be here tomorrow night. And you'd probably see it the night after, and the night after that, if only you were able to stay for a little longer in paradise, if you could only afford it.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[‘The Comedown’ Is Like An SSRI For After You Read ‘Infinite Jest’]]> https://nylon.com/articles/the-comedown-rebekah-frumkin 2018-04-17T21:15:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/the-comedown-rebekah-frumkin \ NYLON en 2018-04-17T21:15:00.000Z ‘The Comedown’ Is Like An SSRI For After You Read ‘Infinite Jest’ culture, books

‘The Comedown’ Is Like An SSRI For After You Read ‘Infinite Jest’

Kristin Iversen
2018-04-17T21:15:00.000Z

"Oh my god, that's my dream," Rebekah Frumkin tells me over the phone. We're talking about her debut novel, The Comedown, and, after Frumkin comments that the novel could serve as a much-needed antidote, or even an "SSRI for after you read David Foster Wallace," I suggest that this should be the headline for our interview: "The Comedown Is an SSRI for After You Read Infinite Jest." Frumkin, it's clear, approves.

It's the rare debut novel, though, that finds itself comparison with DFW's opus (even if that comparison is deliberately oppositional), and yet The Comedown more than deserves that kind of consideration. Taking place from the perspectives of over a dozen different characters, who are either members of two sprawling families—the Mittwoch-Blooms and the Marshalls—or intimately related to one clan or the other, The Comedown follows the disparate journeys of each individual, as they pursue with an often insatiable hunger wavy, warped versions of the American Dream. 

Hunger, or appetite, is a resonant theme of the book. Whether for drugs, money, love, or a sense of belonging, the characters within The Comedown are insatiable in their desire to get more and more of what they want. But, of course, there is an infinite number of things standing in the way of each person getting what he or she wants—including, at times, themselves. 

But as much as The Comedown is an epic in scope and intention, it is fundamentally different from what our culture usually prioritizes as epics, those door stopper novels usually written by cis, straight white men, in that The Comedown offers an array of American experiences, voices from places of traditional privilege—white and straight and wealthy—and from the perspectives of those who don't. It grapples with big issues—race, sexuality, economic power, religion, the weirdness of Florida—and Frumkin imbues each page with a specificity and near-disorienting dark sense of humor. But, much as your eyes do at night, you adjust to the darkness, and a whole new world opens up to you, one filled with an infinite amount of things to explore, to learn and relearn about, to consider maybe for the first time.

Below, I speak with Frumkin about what inspired her to write this novel, what parts were most difficult for her to write, and the problem with well-meaning "liberal" white women.

What inspired you to write this book, about these people, in this time and place? Or, I guess, times and places.
I think what inspired me to write this novel was my own growth as a human being, and the opportunity to see that reflected in the denouement of a narrative and in the addition of characters to that narrative, was, like, subconsciously what was motivating me. I actually started writing this novel with just three to 10 white men [as the characters], and they were in this money and power triangle, and they were like fighting each other. I wanted to write a muscular, manly novel, you know? I was in my early 20s and not really understanding how marginalization worked, and how sort of oppressive social forces were at play even in literature; even in creative circles, you could still encounter these oppressive forces, and I was kind of playing into them. And then I experienced illness-related complications, and it spurred me to think about how narrow in scope the book was and how much bigger I wanted it to be—how much bigger it could be—and so I started to explore different avenues, and try to create characters that were more indicative of the cross section of individuals on a city street.  

And [for Cleveland and Florida, where most of the book takes place] the interesting thing, too, [is that] Cleveland and Florida have this in common, where they're places where people are accustomed to feeling defeat. Cleveland, especially, before LeBron, they're used to feeling a lot of defeat; there was a lot of dying industries, and all the car manufactures kind of closed up shop; there's just a lot of jobs that were lost. And in Florida, Florida is just like... I don't even know what's going on in Florida. 

One of the ones who I found most fascinating was Jocelyn, who is a privileged white woman with lots of pretensions to progressiveness. How was it to write from her perspective?
Jocelyn was a delight to write because she was sort of like the punching bag of the novel. She is white hypocrisy, she is a white feminist. She does not understand the degree to which her neo-liberal meddling does harm and how, in the community she's claiming to help and these causes she's claiming to advance, she's actually setting them back, just by being the way she is, which is narcissistic as fuck. So to write Jocelyn, I simply had to look around me, but also look inward at my own hypocrisy and ways in which I had acted earlier in my life, and even later gone on liberal crusades instead of behaving in a way that was like intersectional and mindful. 

Did you incorporate different parts of yourself in all the characters to some degree?
Basically, I took something from myself that I know exists—I took the white hypocrisy, I took the anxiety, I took the queerness—and I built a character around it, and I gave that character distinguishing features, as the character saw fit. Which is kind of a way of saying, like, I just sort of wrote blindly with no real plan in mind... but, yeah, that's kind of how I'd say I went about it. [laughs]

Not to sound super-corny, but that idea of having a bit of yourself in all these very different people... isn't that ideally, like, the human experience? That we realize that there is something that we can connect to with every person? It's not even exactly seeing yourself in the other characters, but it's just a reminder of the vastness of humanity.
I mean, that's exactly how I would say it.

And, I mean, there are ways in which that's a comfort, but there's also a lot you do with this novel, that art is supposed to do, namely, make people uncomfortable. And one way you do that, I think, is through the fact that you present these characters in all their imperfections with no moral judgment of them. Even though some are, like, maybe "better" people than others, there's no moralizing whatsoever, even as we, as readers, come to our own moral judgments on certain characters, like Jocelyn. How did you avoid the dichotomy of "good" and "bad"? Like, how do you make their appetites—and some of them have very rapacious ones—not be the only thing that defines them?
One thing that really helped me write this book was to watch someone I love, love a person with an addiction. And it's not a romantic love, but more of like a close familiar love, which kind of makes it more poignant—not that romantic love isn't poignant to me. This person whom I love, we'll call this person A, let's say, person A would always suffer at the hands of person B, and I'd be like, Wow, person B is really bad, the things they've done are very bad, they should feel bad. But the more I learned about person B, I learned about their life, I learned about their children, their family, I learned a lot, actually, I was like, Well, clearly things aren't all bad. I had to reexamine that situation. Nothing had changed, I just learned more information, and person B had become more human to me. Essentially, I was like, Wow, this is really complex because there's this whole web of interactions between person B and the world, and person B and person A, and person A and the world. And nothing added up to, "Oh, the bad drug addict," or "the long-suffering caretaker." It simply doesn't add up to that. This book was a way for me to explore loving and caring for those who are difficult to love, because I love every single one of those characters—even the most awful character I'm still invested in. 

And then some of the characters aren't awful, but just go through awful things, even though it doesn't fully define them. I'm thinking of the Tarzan/Tweety chapter, which is one in which a teenager comes to term with their sexuality, and it has some profoundly upsetting moments, but also ones of real beauty.
I was very self-conscious about making sure that it wasn't, like, another queer sad story, where it's just like, they're still unhappy after they come out, and they get bullied, and then their partner dies.   

How much of this did you have plotted out when you first started writing it?
I really didn't have anything plotted, because I was really committed to writing that triangle of straight white men book, and it was gonna be really short and funny, and I had a perfect vision for it. [And then,] someone in workshop, when I submitted a section, a woman was just like, "Where are the women? There are no women in this." And that was the beginning of my awakening to a broader, bigger novel, because I was just like, Why am I leaving out women? Like, what's that all about? I mean, I write from the male perspective almost automatically because I grew up reading white men, and it's been like a decade-long process of reprogramming. And we have to get over that area of miseducation, but I think that workshop comment started me thinking about that. I was just like, Oh, maybe I should start writing from the female perspective, what's wrong with that? But, yeah, I just didn't have anything planned until I was still hammering plot stuff out with my editor after the book was acquired.

It's definitely more of a character study than just pure plot, but writing some of the characters, specifically the ones who are a different race and gender than you... was that difficult?
I definitely felt the need to basically be as transparent and empathetic and sensitive as possible when writing characters of color, because I think that a lot of the times—not all of the time—but what I personally have seen a lot of is white writers being like, "Okay, it's time for my big award; it's time for my laurel. I'm gonna write a character of color." I'm so sorry to bring up Infinite Jest in this interview, but I always remember this really racist part in Infinite Jest where, for absolutely no reason, there's this super-racist monologue of a black woman. It's outlandishly offensive; I am shocked that in 1996 with Will Brown or whoever it was actually let this go to print. But that was David Foster Wallace being like, "Hey, look at me, I can write in any voice; like, take that Bret Easton Ellis. My dick is bigger. "So in a lot of that kind of behavior, my feeling is that people should be able to write across difference, and a person with privilege should be able to write a character who is marginalized, but, boy, have they gotta do that with empathy. 

And I think the key is, they've got to distinguish between having that character and breathing life into that character and treating them well, and telling a story that's not their own. And so I've had a lot of conversations about this with [writer] Tony Tulathimutte. He read a draft of my book just for everything—he was reading for structure, plot, style, everything—and he was just like, "Hey, just so you know, this person of color, this is really fucked-up. You really fucked this up." And I was like, "Yeah, fair. That's completely fair." And we talked about how it's not my place to be like, "Okay, this is the black experience in America." Like, it's really not my place to weigh in on that. And I thought I was avoiding that, but, in fact, I was sort of over-indicating things about race that made me come across as disingenuous. And then, I pulled back and was like, Okay, this is my place, let me stay in my lane; I can have this character of color, and I can have the truth of the character, but I can't get on some bizarre soapbox and start like shouting off about the marginalized experience that doesn't belong to me

So that's why I was really careful with the entire Marshall family. Race forms their experience, but I gotta be really fucking careful. Race forms their experience in so far as they must live under white supremacy, just like sexuality forms my experience in so far as I must live under a heteropatriarchy. But the unique aspects of their struggle is not mine to write, not mine to touch on, so I made sure to kind of leave that out, whereas characters like Tarzan/Tweety, I am able to comment on the history of that queer kind of oppression. 

The thing is, people don't understand that identity also comes into play for members of the dominant culture. Like, men are affected by gender in the same way that feminist women are; it's real, it affects them. They just derive power from it, whereas some women are disempowered by it. And when you derive power from something, that thing is somehow erased, but the reality of that thing still damages us, and you just become powerful sans context. So I was using that kind of as a guiding principle writing the book, too, where it's, like, the book was originally about three white men, but it was supposed to be making a mockery of masculinity. And I think that I didn't lose sight of that goal, even as the book theme multiplied and the scope expanded, I still wanted to make sure that I pointed out how ridiculous white men are. So Tony Tulathimutte and Okezie Nwoka, those are the two people who read my whole manuscript. They were two readers, who are friends of mine, [and] these two guys picked up on the race aspect.

It's such an important balance to strike as a writer, having to be aware but also not letting yourself be handicapped. Having trusted readers go through it and then give you their ungarnished opinions is probably the best possible thing, as long as you're receptive; it's what every author should have or should want to have, so they're not pulling a David Foster Wallace and having a dick measuring contest with Bret Easton Ellis.
That's actually the highest compliment I could possibly receive. That it's like the SSRI for when you think about David Foster Wallace. 

That's actually like a good headline: "The Comedown is like an SSRI for after you read Infinite Jest."
Oh my god, that's my dream, actually.

The Comedown is available for purchase here.

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<![CDATA[The 10 Movies To Get Really Excited About At Tribeca 2018]]> https://nylon.com/articles/tribeca-film-festival-2018-best-movies 2018-04-16T14:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/tribeca-film-festival-2018-best-movies \ NYLON en 2018-04-16T14:30:00.000Z The 10 Movies To Get Really Excited About At Tribeca 2018 culture, film,duck butter, tribeca, tribeca film festival, disobedience, blowin up, the seagull, the miseducation of cameron post, say her name the life and death of sandra bland, zoe, slut in a good way, braid, in a relationship

The 10 Movies To Get Really Excited About At Tribeca 2018

Sandra Song
2018-04-16T14:30:00.000Z

The 2018 Tribeca Film Festival starts this Wednesday, which means that some of the world's best independent films are coming to New York City, and we couldn't be more ready to attend a screening (or 20).

Spanning 12 days, 51 narratives, and 45 documentaries, there's a little bit for everyone, whether you're a casual theater-goer, a hard-core MoviePass addict, or an A-list celebrity. Plus, this year's slate is particularly special. In an industry not exactly known for its gender parity, 46 percent of the 96 films being screened at Tribeca have been directed by a woman, which is the highest proportion in the festival's history. So, in addition to having something to celebrate, we also have plenty of great women-helmed films to watch, from blood-curdling psychological thrillers (Braid) to highly anticipated biopics (Mapplethorpe)

Check out our 10 Tribeca must-sees below. 

The Tribeca Film Festival takes place from April 18 to 29 in New York City. Check out the full schedule here.


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<![CDATA[The New Moon In Aries Is A Time For Self-Empowerment]]> https://nylon.com/articles/new-moon-april-2018 2018-04-16T13:00:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/new-moon-april-2018 \ NYLON en 2018-04-16T13:00:00.000Z The New Moon In Aries Is A Time For Self-Empowerment culture, astrology, horoscopes

The New Moon In Aries Is A Time For Self-Empowerment

Gala Mukomolova
2018-04-16T13:00:00.000Z

Do you love the new moon the way I love it? A time to set plans into motion, to manifest for the year ahead, to spend the night looking for all the constellations and stars you have yet to know. During the waning moon, the sky gets darker and darker as the moon’s lid lowers, as if she’s meditating on shadows and all the unknown worlds hidden within them. This month’s new moon is in Aries, and if there’s anything Aries excels at, it’s beginnings, reveling in unknown possibilities, discovering the numerous outcomes we’re capable of putting into place with sheer willpower. An Aries new moon is all about self-determination and self-empowerment. Rising on the heels of Mercury Retrograde, this Aries new moon is even more impatient, irreverent, irritable, and unstoppable than ever. She’s fueled by the strength of the Sun and Uranus’ rebellious nature, both in Aries, she knows the future is already here if you want it and she’s ready to go go go go.

Mercury goes direct the same day as the new moon, and this might make you want to jump up and clap your hands, but, do me a favor, and mind your feet. Impulsive Aries might not understand that Mercury Rx’s shadow period lasts two weeks after Mercury is direct, but you, dear reader, should try to understand. The upturned roots and upended plans, the missed connections and miscommunications you’ve run up against this month aren’t done with you quite yet. There are lessons here or, if not lessons, causes for retrospection and deep intention setting. The new moon in Aries wants you to begin again and as soon as possible, but if you’re willing to act wisely, you’ll let the new moon channel your urgent energy into plans rather than immediate actions. 

Mars, the planet that rules Aries, is still stationed in Capricorn and spending a lot of time with stern Saturn. The choices you make about your path now are infused with an incredible power, there is an enduring influence here, a domino effect that has the potential to change your life in multiple rippling ways. With all this fire in the sky, you’ll feel like you’ve got a lot of fuel in that tank. Take advantage of every spike of ambition and energy to drive out into the reaches of your imagination and make a blueprint for the year ahead. Give Mars in Capricorn the chance to size those plans up and make sure they are worth your time, your energy, and your financial resources. What materials are necessary for your foundation? What will serve as your pillars and beams, where will you place the load-bearing walls? Can you envision now the shape that you want your year to take? Can you envision who will be there with you when the Sun returns to Aries next year? Call in the support you need, even if only to cheer you on from sidelines as you strike out on your own. 

Put a little faith in yourself, or, better yet, put a lot of faith in yourself—if a vision of what you want comes to you, don’t be so quick to dismiss it. Aries, like all children, hate the word “no,” because they want every day to begin with open doors. If there are doors in you that want to be open, open them. If all this planning and reflecting has got you restless, then go outside. Venus is in Taurus, so spend time in nature, ask yourself what you love and make a point of loving it openly and widely, like lying in the grass under a tree and following the branches, like being quiet and listening to the buds open. Stretch out and remember your body. You’ve got to warm up those muscles before you’re ready to race. 

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<![CDATA[This Fantasy Series Will Change Your Mind About Genre Fiction]]> https://nylon.com/articles/broken-earth-nk-jemisin-fantasy-series-science-fiction 2018-04-13T19:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/broken-earth-nk-jemisin-fantasy-series-science-fiction \ NYLON en 2018-04-13T19:30:00.000Z This Fantasy Series Will Change Your Mind About Genre Fiction culture, books, fantasy, science fiction, Hugo Awards, NK Jemisin

This Fantasy Series Will Change Your Mind About Genre Fiction

Angela Lashbrook
2018-04-13T19:30:00.000Z

"For some crimes, there is no fitting justice—only reparation."

Forget what you think you know about fantasy novels: N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy takes Euro-centric fantasy, with its kings, courts, and dragons, and shakes things up from the inside—not unlike the earthquakes that plague the series’ world. 

Unlike more familiar fantasy series, such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, in which a dangerous outside force (see: Voldemort) threatens a society's status quo, in Jemisin’s series, the status quo itself is the villain; it is the true enemy against which an oppressed minority must dedicate their lives to fighting.

The trilogy begins with the novel The Fifth Season, and is set in a single country-continent known as The Stillness. Since the beginning of The Stillness’s recorded history, it has been wracked by its Seasons—catastrophic climate events that act as mini apocalypses, destroying society when they strike every few hundred years. 

This has created a society of what are essentially doomsday preppers, traumatized from the constant threat of annihilation; within it exists a subclass of people known as orogenes. Orogenes are magicians of sorts, who can control the movements of the “Evil Earth.” Because of this immense power to force the earth’s crust to bend to their will, and thus keep Seasons temporarily at bay, they’re a necessary element of society in The Stillness. But their powers are dangerous. There is the risk of accidents at the hands of the untrained orogenes’ accidents, but there is also the fear of the immense power a trained orogene can wield. As a result of this fear, the orogenes are massively oppressed; they're the victims of genocide within their society, and either slaughtered within their villages, or, if they’re “lucky,” sent to live at a school known as the Fulcrum. There, orogenes are trained, secluded from society, and enslaved by their own people. 

Leading this story are three women: Essun, a middle-aged school teacher and secret orogene, whose story begins when her husband murders their infant son; Syenite, a young Fulcrum-trained orogene struggling to find her way as she discovers the underlying evil around her; and Damaya, a child whose parents cast her out once they discover her orogenic powers. 

As the corrupt core of this society is laid bare, Jemisin’s characters struggle—not always heroically—with a heart-wrenching dilemma: What future does a society built on oppression, enslavement, and brainwashing truly deserve? As the series goes on, any hope for a definite answer, becomes increasingly unclear, and the prospect of the absolute destruction of the “broken earth” as a means of salvation begins to sound more and more reasonable. 

Jemisin is the first black writer to win a Hugo Award (prestigious annual awards for sci-fi and fantasy literature) for best novel—and she's won it twice in a row, for the first two novels of this series, The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate. The third and final book, The Stone Sky, one of the best conclusions to a fantasy series I’ve ever read, has been nominated as well.

More remarkable still is Jemisin’s incredibly dynamic and diverse cast of characters. Nearly all the main characters of the series, and in fact the primary composition of society, are people of color. Syenite is bisexual, her best friend is gay, and another character is trans. These characters are allowed to exist wholly as themselves, and their race, sexuality, or gender identity is merely one of many parts of the whole. Rather than identity, it's their formative trauma that acts as the structure around which each character revolves, and is, ultimately, what each character must learn to overcome. Essun’s pain from the murder of her son, Syenite’s realization that the world she inhabits is inherently evil, and Damaya’s betrayal at the hands of the people she trusts the most—her parents—defines the ways in which these women operate in the world—with literally earth-shattering consequences. 

The Broken Earth books aren’t the sort of fantasy novels you pick up to escape the minutiae of your day. The Stillness is so detailed and different from our own reality and the tropes of typical fantasy novels that the reader can’t rely on familiarity to plow ahead. They’re violent, and heartbreaking, and there were points where I had to stop reading because my love for the characters and terror at their futures was so heightened, I couldn’t take it. But when I turned the last page of The Stone Sky, I was rewarded, not with a happy ending entirely, but with hope. That through a grueling excavation to the rot at the heart of society, we can find something akin to justice. 

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.

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<![CDATA[Wyatt Cenac Has Some Thoughts On The Gentrification Of Outer Space]]> https://nylon.com/articles/wyatt-cenac-hbo-problem-areas-interview 2018-04-13T15:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/wyatt-cenac-hbo-problem-areas-interview \ NYLON en 2018-04-13T15:30:00.000Z Wyatt Cenac Has Some Thoughts On The Gentrification Of Outer Space culture, television

Wyatt Cenac Has Some Thoughts On The Gentrification Of Outer Space

Kristin Iversen
2018-04-13T15:30:00.000Z

Wyatt Cenac has a great memory. Either that or he did some due diligence before we spoke on the phone recently about his new HBO late-night series, Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas. Regardless, he greeted me with a surprising—and welcome—comment of, "We've talked before." Which, we had. About three-and-a-half years ago, I'd interviewed Cenac in front of his late grandmother's building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and we'd spoken about his childhood summers there, the best places to find roti in the neighborhood, and what gentrification can do to a place and its people. It had been a memorable interview for me, because Cenac had been so great to speak with—smart and funny and with impeccable taste in West Indian food. But he does scores of interviews like that, how memorable could it have been for him? And yet: "It's nice to talk with you again," he said.

This is the thing about Cenac: There's remarkably little pretense when talking with him; there's an intimacy that speaks not to some false sense of knowing one another, but rather to a refusal to engage in bullshit superficialities. It's an incredibly appealing quality, and it's one that's long been apparent in Cenac, throughout his career as a stand-up comic, actor, and correspondent on The Daily Show. And now, Cenac brings it to his own show, making for a very welcome addition to the late-night landscape.

On Problem Areas, Cenac speaks to audiences from a low-key studio (you feel almost as if you're in your home) about things like Elon Musk and the gentrification of outer space, but rather than simply talk about whatever news is happening in the moment, Cenac and his team have a bigger mission: They've dedicated the entire 10-episode season to exploring one issue, the state of policing in America. This means that Cenac spends a good amount of time on the show traveling around the country, talking to people who hold all sorts of opinions on the topic, people from all walks of life. It's an effective and affecting way of reporting—and a compelling look into one of the biggest problems facing our nation.

Below, I talk with Cenac about Problem Areas, why he chose to grapple with the issue of policing, and why we should all be a little skeptical of the altruistic nature of white billionaires who want to explore outer space.  

It's an interesting time to be working in the late-night space, but what sets your show apart is that it doesn't have the sort of hamster wheel-feeling of trying to constantly be on top of whatever new scandal is happening on Twitter, or whatever's in the headlines at the moment. I was wondering what kind of challenges that presented in terms of planning out the show, or if you had any pushback where people were like, "No, you have to talk about Donald Trump."
No, no pushback. No one necessarily is putting pressure upon us to engage in the 24-hour news cycle at all times and to be that reactive. I think, for me, the idea to not get caught up in the news cycle, that was something that was deliberate for me, and for Hallie Haglund, who is an executive producer and the head writer on the show. For both of us, we worked together on The Daily Show, and you get worn down from news cycle-chasing, and, I think for us, we wanted to figure out how we could do a show that's isn't so reliant on that. I think the challenge of it is, obviously, there are things that are gonna come in the news cycle where the feeling is, "Oh, everyone is gonna have to talk about this." I think that there will be those feelings and that anxiety of, "Oh, should we be talking about it?" But I think we try to counterbalance that by finding subjects that we felt people would connect with, and I think by doing something like tackling one subject over the course of a season, hopefully, people will be invested in those stories.

What made you decide that the one issue you'd cover over the course of the season would be policing? There's an irony to that choice, in that it's both completely relevant and of the moment, but also, like, when has the issue of corrupt policing not been relevant and important to explore? It's great because it doesn't seem like merely a time capsule issue; it's been around, and it will be around. But also, like, you can explore it in a time capsule way, with what's happening right now. What were the challenges in tackling such a comprehensive national problem? 
We toyed around with a few different ideas and policing was one that we were entertaining, and I really have to give a lot of credit to HBO and Nina Rosenstein over there [for supporting it]. I think for us, when we started talking about it, the challenge was, "Well, we're gonna spend 10 episodes on this. Are we gonna be able to cover everything? Are we gonna be able to say everything that we want to say?" And there was no pressure that we had to be the encyclopedia for all of policing. 

Thankfully, once we started digging into it, it was: Let's find the stories that are interesting and kind of put forth the narrative of looking at the problem, kinda like what you said, in this time capsule, in this moment, and looking at it from a few different perspectives and a few different angles, knowing that we're not gonna cover everything, that we're not going to solve everything, and that's not the intention. 

The intention really is to be able to engage in something beyond the polarized conversation that it seems like is always being had around an issue like policing, that never really gets beyond that polarizing conversation and digs into, like, how does change actually happen? What can change look like? For us, I think, having the support from the network and going into it, it felt like, "Yeah, there are obviously a lot of challenges with a subject like this," but it felt like we were going into it knowing that we were kind of supported on the way in. And it is one of those timeless things that people have been talking about for decades. With how they're having that conversation now, there are similarities to how it's been had a decade ago, two decades ago, three decades ago, and there are new things. So to be able to talk about all of that felt interesting, and it felt interesting to all of us in the building. 

How is it working in this format without a live audience? I, personally, found a real intimacy in watching the show, knowing it's just you talking to the camera. There's no waiting for the audience to hear the joke and laugh or not laugh. Why did you make that choice for filming?
It definitely was a desire to make the show for the person who would be watching the show at home. I don't want a studio audience to be the ones to tell them how to feel, to tell them when to laugh, to tell them when to be angry or sad. Watching something is a personal experience, and I think watching something that is dealing with a heavy subject matter, it's a personal thing. And so I liked the idea of doing that, and I think as we started to then think about how to style the look of the show, we brought in a set designer, this woman Maggie Ruder, she really did a good job of trying to capture the spirit of what we were going for, and created something that felt more intimate, felt more connected with the viewer, to give them a show that is their show. It's for them to watch.

You also spend a lot of time out of the studio. How was it for you incorporating traveling around the country into something like this? Did you draw from your experiences from traveling to do stand-up? Or from doing field assignments on The Daily Show? It felt really different from those, though, which always felt more pre-determined. Your show feels far more spontaneous. 
I think, to your point, the field element of the show is different than what I did on The Daily Show, and the approach is different. I think with The Daily Show, we kind of went out knowing the story we wanted to get, and [with] this, we have an idea, but the story evolves and it changes. What has been really great in shooting something like this, is I have a producer, and a researcher, and a camera crew that travels with us. In the past, it was just usually a producer and myself. And so, as the story moves and changes, researchers are there on the ground, being able to talk to people. 

I think, overall for me, looking at something like policing, it's such a polarized conversation, and it's one that gets sensationalized nationally when you see stuff on Fox News and people speaking in these hyperbolic terms. And the reality is that something like policing is very local, and a lot of the issues that we get sensationalized on those 24-hour news networks, they're local issues a lot of the time. So the issues in New York are not the issues in Oklahoma, they're not the issues in L.A. And so, to me, it felt like, "Okay, if you're gonna talk about something, especially something as big and obtuse as trying to understand policing, [you have to remember that] there is no national network for police. There's over 17,000 different agencies, and they all do different things."

So the idea of talking about police reform, it's not like you reform one department and it sweeps across the others. So it felt important to be able to go into different areas and understand what are the issues around policing in this area and how do people address it and try to find answers to some of these issues. That felt interesting to me, because it also felt like, if you see how somebody else does it, if that's an issue, that exists somewhere else. You can say, "Yeah, why don't we have that?" And then ask for it. It changes the conversation, and it maybe makes the conversational update more nuanced and gives people more details and information.

Did you learn anything that you weren't expecting to learn from talking to different people around the country about this issue?
I think the biggest surprise for me was just seeing that there was more common ground than perhaps that national conversation gives credit to. It's interesting to go places and see that, at the end of the day, people just want to feel safe, and what that looks like to them varies... but that was encouraging to see that there is more common ground that perhaps I realized.  

Beyond policing, you also talk about the important issue of white billionaire assholes who are now all about space travel. What made you want to cover that?
As we were talking about possible segments, it was one that I think, as somebody who has often times joked about things like gentrification, it felt a little bit in my wheelhouse, that space gentrification that's going on, and it felt like a fun thing to talk about. Everyone gets very excited about the idea of space travel, but... it's not going to be everybody that gets to go. [In thinking about how to change things for the better, we should be thinking]: "What can we do locally? What can we do in our own neighborhoods?" And maybe let's look at those things first, before we start hoping to woo a rich guy to take us to space with them, and to be a rich guy's space pet.

 Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas premieres on HBO tonight at 11:30pm.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[‘Truth Or Dare’ Is A Teen Horror Movie With ‘Black Mirror’ Vibes]]> https://nylon.com/articles/truth-or-dare-teen-horror-tech 2018-04-13T14:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/truth-or-dare-teen-horror-tech \ NYLON en 2018-04-13T14:30:00.000Z ‘Truth Or Dare’ Is A Teen Horror Movie With ‘Black Mirror’ Vibes culture, film,blumhouse's truth or dare, truth or dare, horror, lucy hale, tyler posey

‘Truth Or Dare’ Is A Teen Horror Movie With ‘Black Mirror’ Vibes

Sandra Song
2018-04-13T14:30:00.000Z

In Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, the constant glare of a phone screen is a given. Texts are sent, search bar sleuthing is the way to locate the people you need to find, things aren’t official-official until they are on Instagram, etc. But this all sounds familiar, right? This is just how we live. And yet, our current technological age is only just now fully making itself known in the teen horror genre, which has finally shifted its focus away from the things that go bump in the night and toward the limitless potential of the uncharted, constantly-changing, and, ultimately, unknown reaches of the internet. After all, it’s well-established that fear of the unknown drives the plots of a large number of horror films. So what happens when the flashlights and Oujia boards of yesteryear’s ghost hunters are replaced by an iPhone flashlight and threatening texts from a mysterious number?

Without giving away too much, let’s just say that technology ends up playing a substantial role in Truth or Dare—with Lucy Hale’s goody-two-shoes character, Olivia, introducing us to the story via her YouTube channel. She is pressured into joining her friends on a trip to Mexico, where she meets a man who leads them to an abandoned (and very haunted) spot. They accidentally incur the wrath of a vengeful demon who forces them into a game of truth or dare and, from there, it’s easy to see how things progress—badly.

The fateful night that led to this whole mess is documented via social media and, throughout the movie, the group is menaced via texts from unknown numbers and imagined demons with faces that look like they've been put through Snapchat filters (there's even a special one for the movie). But social media is even further integrated into the film, as the remaining members of the doomed spring break excursion end up tracking down another player of the game via Facebook to try and figure out where it all went wrong. And there's also a huge twist at the end that involves none other than, you guessed it, the world wide web. 

This kind of tech-based horror is not new. It’s the main threat presented by TV shows like Black Mirror, as well as by real-life horrors like the Cambridge Analytica scandal. We’ve collectively bought into our own surveillance state, and even feed into it by offering up our personal data so that we can use better filters on our selfies. And it has been seen in cinema before, whether in 2017’s Nerve, which operates on the same premise as Truth or Dare, just via an IRL hacker rather than an otherworldly spirit; 2015’s #Horror, in which preteens are killed by a social media game spun out of control; or 2016’s bizarre Facebook-haunting flick, Friend Request. And then there was 2014’s Unfriended, which saw a group of friends being haunted by a classmate who had died by suicide via Skype. We've been exploring this idea for some time now, but as the horrors of tech grow more pervasive, we're only going to get more films covering this territory.

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare hits theaters today, April 13.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[10 Health Apps That Will Transform Your Mind And Body]]> https://nylon.com/articles/ten-health-apps-to-transform-mind-and-body 2018-04-12T21:00:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/ten-health-apps-to-transform-mind-and-body \ NYLON en 2018-04-12T21:00:00.000Z 10 Health Apps That Will Transform Your Mind And Body culture

10 Health Apps That Will Transform Your Mind And Body

The Zoe Report
2018-04-12T21:00:00.000Z

Curated by Rachel Zoe and her team of editors and stylists, The Zoe Report is not only your stop for all things fashion and beauty but all-around lifestyle as well. Check out their site for everything from shopping tips to dating advice, to the latest in celebrity news.

In recent years, we’ve finally come to the understanding that mental health is just as important as physical health. It’s critical to take care of your psychological well-being in addition to your body. Both of these things, however, are easier said than done. That’s where these apps come in. We’ve rounded up the best health apps for everything, including meditation, kick-your-butt workouts and improving your eating habits.

Here, nine health apps that will help you live your best life.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[This Mexican Region Is Becoming A Major New Art Hub]]> https://nylon.com/articles/los-cabos-arts-culture 2018-04-11T20:00:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/los-cabos-arts-culture \ NYLON en 2018-04-11T20:00:00.000Z This Mexican Region Is Becoming A Major New Art Hub culture

This Mexican Region Is Becoming A Major New Art Hub

Jenna Igneri
2018-04-11T20:00:00.000Z

While planning my first trip to Los Cabos, located at the tip of the Baja California Sur peninsula in Mexico, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Having never been to Mexico, aside from an hours-long pit stop in Cozumel on a cruise (which, in my opinion, doesn't count), I, admittedly, had always thought that Los Cabos referred only to Cabo San Lucas, a resort town frequented by tourists and many a spring breaker, filled with a cluster of beachside bars and nightclubs with a bit of a rowdy reputation.

Upon arriving, besides my realization that I had just entered one of the most beautiful places I've ever had the opportunity to lay my eyes upon, I was delighted to find that this paradise has way more to offer than just palm trees and resort-side beaches.

The Los Cabos municipality refers to two separate cities—the above party-heavy Cabo San Lucas, and San José del Cabo, its much quieter counterpart with a historic downtown district and a bustling art scene, located just 30 minutes down the road from each other.

But Los Cabos, San José del Cabo in particular, is quickly becoming a reputable hub for the arts in Mexico, with many artists from Mexico City—and all over the world—flocking there to join the locals in its growing gallery district.

Tucked away into the tiny streets of San José del Cabo’s historic district, you’ll find gallery after gallery showcasing some of the best local and global contemporary works.

In Patricia Mendoza’s two galleries, she expertly curates an array of Mexico’s freshest talents. Ranging in various mediums and styles, Mendoza explores the unique visions from Mexican artists of all ages and backgrounds.

Patricia Mendoza Gallery in San José del Cabo

You’ll find colorful, politically driven works by Spanish-born, Los Cabos resident, Enrique Bascón, and sea-inspired sculptural masterpieces by Mexico City-born artist Julián García Forcelledo at his studio-gallery Arte Gallery. At Galeria Corsica, you’ll find fine artworks by more than 50 contemporary Mexican artists, including a breezy, open-roofed sculpture area.

The Art District Association boasts 14 major galleries, with more to come in the very near future. Amid the fine art, you’ll also find plenty of shops selling pieces by local artisans, like seed-bead-covered sugar skulls—pieces that travel easily and are a great place to start for beginner art collectors.

But to make the most of your time hitting all of the galleries San José del Cabo has to offer, be sure to head to the gallery district on a Thursday evening. Every week from November through June, the Gallery District Association heads up the Art Walk, where you can stroll through all of the area’s galleries while sipping wine and dining in all of the neighborhood eateries. 

In addition to Los Cabos’ bustling gallery scene, the annual Gala de Danza, a masterful blend of dance and music from both local and international talents, takes place right in the center of its resort community.

This year’s performance, which used the breathtaking, not-yet-opened Viceroy Los Cabos as its venue, featured some of the best local and international talents. The event opened with a song by mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, followed by a number of notable performances.

New York City Ballet’s principal ballerina Tiler Peck performed George Balanchine’s ballet "Who Cares?" with dancer and Los Cabos native Andrés Zúñiga. Norwegian singer Angelia Jordan performed a chilling rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” accompanied by Canadian dancer Tate McRae. American principal dancers Beckanne Sisk and Chase O’Connell performed Swan Lake, accompanied by 60 children from the community as swans surrounding the stage.

A scene from this year’s Gala de Danza, photo by Brodsky Productions

While there are plenty of picturesque resorts to stay in while vacationing in Los Cabos, Hotel El Ganzo is the place to stay if art is on your itinerary. 

The boutique hotel is located at the base of the Puerto Los Cabos Marina, boasting gorgeous views of the marina and a rooftop infinity pool and jacuzzi. While the hotel is certainly luxe, it has a certain cool, laid-back nature that puts you at ease. However, it’s the arts program that makes the property so unique.

El Ganzo invites artists to come stay on their property with the freedom of creating art for the hotel during their stay, whether that means painting the walls of the hallways, the lobby, or the building itself.

As you walk up to the property, you’ll notice the giant crown painted on the top of the building, a nod at Basquiat, by artist Desmond Mason. As you walk into the hotel lobby, you’re immediately greeted by an enormous, mixed media mural by artist Ciler. As you walk through the hallways, you’ll find additional paintings and sculptures of all sorts lining the hallways and each room. None of the works fall into a particular theme, as the artists are given complete creative freedom during their stay at El Ganzo. Which, in my opinion, makes things more interesting.

After dealing with the aftermath of 2014’s Hurricane Odile, the hotel was forced to start over following the damage, filling its walls with new art. Once the hotel is completely occupied with art? They’ll paint over it all and start again.

And it doesn’t just stop at the hotel. All across the grounds, including around the enormous marina its located on, you’ll find outdoor art—sculptures, paintings, and more—turning a morning stroll or bike ride to the hotel’s Ganzo de Playa Beach Club into an art walk in its own right.

Artist Scarlett Baily paints the walls of a hallway in Hotel El Ganzo

Downstairs, through a secret trap door in the floor of the bar, you’ll find a stairwell leading to a full music studio, which, as you would guess, invites some of Mexico’s—and the world’s—greatest talent to record there. Of course, these recording sessions also lead to live sets for guests, too. Recent guests include the likes of Brooklyn’s Savoir Adore and Australia’s Atlas Genius.

El Ganzo gives back to the community, too. The hotel opened a community center just across the street from its property, where they offer free art programs for the local children. Some of their work has even made its way into the hotel, and I must say, it’s pretty impressive. In a community with such a burgeoning art scene, educating the local children on the arts will only result in furthering its rapid growth.

So, as you find yourself planning your next beach getaway, looking for a little more culture and a little less party, look no further than Los Cabos for a true treat.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[A Stunning New Memoir Confronts A Complicated Legacy Of Addiction, Love, And Loss]]> https://nylon.com/articles/my-dead-parents-anya-yurchyshyn 2018-04-09T15:40:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/my-dead-parents-anya-yurchyshyn \ NYLON en 2018-04-09T15:40:00.000Z A Stunning New Memoir Confronts A Complicated Legacy Of Addiction, Love, And Loss culture, books

A Stunning New Memoir Confronts A Complicated Legacy Of Addiction, Love, And Loss

Kristin Iversen
2018-04-09T15:40:00.000Z

"The experience of losing our parents is going to be universal regardless of what our relationship is with them," Anya Yurchyshyn says to me over the phone. "There's a process of going through someone's most personal belongings that will always reveal something about them that you didn't know, or will force you to see them in a new way. And that both can be very jarring, particularly when you think you know them well, and also really wonderful."

Yurchyshyn knows well of what she speaks. By the age of 32, she had lost both her parents—first her father in a car accident when she was just 16, and then, 16 years later, her mother, of chronic alcoholism, following a long period of addiction and illness. Yurchyshyn had a complicated, tumultuous relationship with her parents—individually, and as a unit—but it was one that she couldn't help but explore in the period following her mother's death, as she sorted through the chaos of her family's once-treasure-filled house, and found photos and letters indicating that there was much more to her parents' lives than she had ever realized.

The result of this exploration is the searing memoir, My Dead Parents, in which Yurchyshyn grapples with the legacy she inherited from her mother and father, uncovering long-held secrets, and confronting a truth that so many of us refuse to acknowledge for much of our lives: Our parents are people too, separate from their relationship to us.

Below, I speak with Yurchyshyn about the memoir, the difficulties of having a family member struggling with addiction, and how to avoid getting trapped in the past, no matter how compelling it is. 

One thing that really impressed itself upon me when reading My Dead Parents was how honest you were about yourself and your own emotions and sometimes your lack of, not emotions, but the kind of emotions that other people thought you should be having, like when you weren't filled with grief [after each of your parents died]. Was it difficult to be honest about that? 
The short answer is, it was very difficult. It was really important for me to be honest, but I knew that certain things I was saying—for example, what you pointed out, not only was I not sad when my father died, I was relieved... [But] I had begun working on an anonymous blog of the same name, and the anonymity really let me say whatever I wanted, and I didn't have to worry about my family finding it or strangers tracking me down to tell me that they thought what I said was offensive or that it was messed up or, you know, that I needed more therapy. And the next step from that was writing this BuzzFeed essay, that ended up getting a lot of attention and leading to the book deal, and publishing that essay and attaching my name to it for the first time was really terrifying but also ended up being really wonderful because I did own those feelings, and it did give people a chance to track me down and a lot of people said, "The same thing happened to me." Or, "I didn't feel the exact same way or had the exact same relationship with my parents, but I also wasn't overcome with grief." 

Especially with the case with my mother... anyone suffering from addiction like that, the process is so painful, and you just feel so helpless, and I was constantly overcome with anxiety and worried that it was going to be even more terrible. I can't speak with authority about what it's like to lose someone from a terminal illness—which I'm sure is incredibly heartbreaking, and also has the same amount of helplessness—but I can imagine, eventually, when someone isn't getting better, and you kind of give up that kind of hope or optimism. I think [relief] is a kind of understandable response because it's not only the end of your suffering but the end of someone else's suffering. 

Saying that out loud or putting that on paper still felt scary, but it was really important to me to be honest about my experience, because, without that, the rest of the book really would not be so significant. It was a huge change for me to go from being relieved that these people had exited my life to me suddenly becoming interested in them, because I find these artifacts from their life, and then going on this kind of an epic journey, traveling around to meet people, spending time where they lived, getting more details of their personalities and their lives, but also more context, both physically and geographically, and eventually be able to find compassion for them. 

That radical change is really profoundly affecting in that it really offers a chance for anyone reading to understand that redemptive feelings toward loved ones, or getting to a place of grace or understanding, is really complicated. I found it particularly affecting when dealing with your relationship with your mother. I think we're so used to hearing about how selfless the loved ones of addicts are supposed to be, no matter how difficult the addict's behavior, and you were able to really beautifully deviate from that script—including, while visiting your mother at the Betty Ford Clinic—and demonstrate just what an impossible task that can sometimes be.
I can't stand scripts, and I had all this anger that flowed out... and it felt really important to talk about that in the book, and I did struggle until the end, to understand my mom's disease and have compassion for it, and I just can't imagine that I'm the only one who found it so heartbreaking to watch someone succumb to that disease. If you haven't spent a lot of time with an addict, the problem with addicts is that it's just a roller coaster with them. There's the narcissism, there's the abuse and the terrible self-esteem; sometimes they don't feel guilty at all, and they refuse to acknowledge what they've put you through. And that's what really came out of Betty Ford. I really had never confronted my anger before and, while it maybe wasn't the right time for it to come out, it was great that it did—not that it made any difference for my mother, but I think it was important for me to be able to say, "Hey, this sucked, and has been affecting my life. This is not just something that you're doing alone." Even if she never intended to hurt my sister and me, I'm sure it broke her heart to see that, but it was really important for me to be able to say, "This has been my experience, and if I'm not honest about that with you, then no healing will happen." 

When addicts do successfully kind of beat their disease—which is so wonderful to me, especially because my mother was incapable of doing it for whatever reason—I just admire those people, because I understand what a daily painful struggle it is for them to stay sober and deny themselves their drug or vice of choice. But, also, if someone gets better, you're left with the experience of like, I'm glad you're better, but this was a shitty decade. And I think it's important for people who have been affected by addiction to be able to talk about that, both with the person who has caused them that pain and then with other people, to just say that this is hard, and this has affected me and my relationships, and it's an important experience to go through.

One thing being close to an addict will do is make you very aware of behavioral patterns, and I think it's clear from your book that it was really important to you to take an active role in your life, and not repeat any destructive patterns. Your independence really stands out, but even though it seems reactive at first, in contradiction to your parents, as you acknowledge in the book, you also realized so much of that nature was replicative of them, and their own love of adventure. Did realizing these similarities make you feel closer to them?
Absolutely, and going back to this thing I keep harping on about being honest—even though it was hard and embarrassing to be really honest about negative things, the negative narrative of my parents was one I was really attached to so, in a lot of ways, that was a lot easier to write about than the positive things. Like, the positive realizations were really at odds with what I had been telling myself about my parents, and this fantasy that I had emerged from them totally independent, and I just so happen to share these qualities of theirs, but I didn't wanna give them any credit for it. It was really difficult, realizing and admitting the positive things, but it, ultimately, felt really wonderful and absolutely made me feel closer to them. I mean, I definitely inherited their love of travel and desire to see the world, and how I managed to get away with telling myself that somehow I had nothing to do with them is absurd. 

One of the most difficult realizations, that was ultimately incredibly comforting, was learning that I actually had a lot in common with my father, and that was a realization that I would not have been open to even a few years before because I only had negative thoughts about him. All of these wonderful qualities of his I eventually discovered, I could only see them in a negative light, saying like, "Oh, this is a person who was willing to pursue their dreams to the end, even at the expense of other things in their life." For a long time, I saw that as purely selfish as opposed to recognizing like, Oh, it's a complicated quality and being that kind of person can mean that you hurt other people. When I was working on this book, I realized that I am a person who prioritizes their dreams above their relationships and values their freedom and the ability to make crazy decisions or decisions that other people don't understand. Watching their lives—I didn't realize it at the time—really gave me permission to live the kind of life I wanted, and that gave me a lot of mobility, a lot of freedom, and I still actively make those choices now.

Did you ever worry that you might get trapped in trying to go deeper and deeper and find out more about your parents' lives and it would be bottomless?
I did worry about that... I realized at the end of it that, like, Well, I just wanna know everything. And I did find out so much and so many things that I had no idea were just parts of my parents' lives, but I didn't anticipate how painful that would be or how draining it would be to sit through these hours and days and months of conversations—especially when they were on topics that were upsetting. Or even if they weren't upsetting, hearing these wonderful stories about my parents' adventures, you know, those were wonderful conversations, but when the conversation ended, I would be left with, Well, I still know how that story ended, so how happy can I really even be about this? It almost makes the end of their lives worse, or makes me even more sad about what happened to them. So the research was just like this constant, unearthing excavation of painful material. But, of course, the deadline approached, and I was like, "Alright, you really have to switch your research to writing," and what I then realized was that that actually opened a whole new investigation, and that was when the investigation of myself started happening; the investigation of my parents ended, but the self-investigation and really looking at my life is what started when I sat down to write the book and I thought, Where do I fit into this? How does my childhood fit in? What are the memories that are gonna help me tell this story? And that allowed me to shift the foundation to this larger narrative. 

My Dead Parents is available for purchase here.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[‘You Were Never Really Here’ Is Like An Art House ‘Taken’]]> https://nylon.com/articles/lynne-ramsay-you-were-never-really-here-exploitation-movie 2018-04-09T13:00:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/lynne-ramsay-you-were-never-really-here-exploitation-movie \ NYLON en 2018-04-09T13:00:00.000Z ‘You Were Never Really Here’ Is Like An Art House ‘Taken’ culture, film

‘You Were Never Really Here’ Is Like An Art House ‘Taken’

Jesse Hassenger
2018-04-09T13:00:00.000Z

Lynne Ramsay’s film Morvern Callar opens with a stretch of stillness—often augmented by close-ups—wherein the audience comes to realize that Morvern (Samantha Morton) has just discovered the suicide of her boyfriend on Christmas morning. She reads his suicide note (which includes a novel manuscript to be submitted to a publisher—classic male writer!), opens Christmas presents, and doesn’t tell anyone about his fate. It’s a transfixing little sequence of a movie’s pieces coming together, and there are echoes of it in You Were Never Really Here, Ramsay’s new film starring Joaquin Phoenix. With even more close-ups in its opening moments, Ramsay slowly assembles the aftermath of violence. Phoenix burns a photo, cleans the blood off of a ball-peen hammer, and takes down a crinkled Do Not Disturb sign that tells you everything you need to know about the functional crumminess of his temporary digs. How his fleeting self-suffocation via plastic bag fits into the picture is not immediately clear.

More clear is the gradual revelation that Phoenix’s character, named Joe, is some kind of shady fixer—a scarred and lumbering force of nature, apparently specializing in some kind of people-retrieving tasks. We see bits and pieces of a recent job, and more of another one, where he’s hired to find the young daughter of a senator, who has run away and may have been nabbed by some very bad people. In some ways, You Were Never Really Here is essentially an artier version of something like Taken; its brutal violence is often technically elided but visibly messy, in contrast to the relatively bloodless combat of the Liam Neeson series. Phoenix brings a clear sense of pain, physical and otherwise, to the part, and fumbling tenderness in scenes with his elderly mother. But the movie isn’t shy about channeling that energy into the plot of a violent thriller.

You Were Never Really Here is only Ramsay’s fourth feature (Morvern Callar, now 16 years old, was her second). It isn’t her first foray into genre territory, either, though it feels more upfront about it than its predecessor. At the time of its release, 2011’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (like Morvern and Here, an adaptation of a novel) was acclaimed for Tilda Swinton’s typically terrific performance as a mother unequipped to deal with her monster of a son, and for the movie’s confrontations of difficult truths about motherhood. Both of these things are in the movie. Swinton, for the entire running time; the difficult truths about motherhood, for about 15 minutes. While its early minutes are bracing, including an indelible shot of Swinton standing in the thick of deafening construction noise to drown out the endless cries of her infant son, We Need to Talk About Kevin is basically a bad seed horror movie gussied up with red filters and overtures toward seriousness.

But the movie, particularly in its scenes set in the aftermath of a devastating event (withheld until the end, naturally), indulges in more grotesque caricatures than most proper horror movies would dare. It imagines that no one watching would understand Swinton’s alienation without portraying her purgatory-like existence through a soul-crushing job at an anachronistically ’80s-looking travel agency. Kevin starts off by showing real anguish not many people talk about, but quickly becomes a movie showcasing behavior that feels increasingly alien. There’s an air of queasy exploitation as the movie builds to its horrific climax, an unearned (and largely unexplored, unless the red filters count) wallow in unimaginable horror.

Ramsay’s craft is often impeccable, and You Were Never Really Here showcases it without as many distractions—or rather, with the exploitation up front, seemingly less convinced that it’s confronting something important. That’s not to say Here is a lark, even a nasty one. But it’s hypnotic where Kevin remained repetitive and even reductive. The aftermath, or series of aftermaths, it deals with here is more immediate—violence often happens just offscreen, before the movie lingers on the gruesome results—and Ramsay does a brilliant job of placing the audience in Joe’s headspace, inscrutable as it sometimes is. She melds physical and psychological pain with such acuity that her bloody righteous-rescue movie sometimes appears to be deconstructing itself, piece by piece, before our eyes.

Arresting as her technique can be and compelling as Phoenix is, this still happens at something of a stylish remove. As with We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ramsay has made a maximalist movie disguised as minimalism, and Here has some flourishes like something out of a show-offy music video. Maybe for some viewers, a one-off shot of Phoenix casually tearing a single page out of a book he appears to be reading holds life-giving mystery, or even a crucial key to the movie’s whole deal. To me, it looks more like ostentatiously weird behavior. Weird things happen in Morvern Callar, too, but its mysteries feel more human. Here keeps offering elliptical bits of Joe’s past, seeming to withhold for the arty sake of it. Still, Ramsay is obviously talented. If it’s hard to tell whether You Were Never Really Here is a full-on deconstruction of a thriller or just evidence of her inability to allow any pleasure into her experiments with genre, maybe there’s another kind of thrill in not knowing.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[‘Blockers’ Star Geraldine Viswanathan Is Not Here For Your Sex Shaming]]> https://nylon.com/articles/geraldine-viswanathan-blockers-interview 2018-04-06T17:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/geraldine-viswanathan-blockers-interview \ NYLON en 2018-04-06T17:30:00.000Z ‘Blockers’ Star Geraldine Viswanathan Is Not Here For Your Sex Shaming culture, film,geraldine visawanathan, blockers, john cena, kay cannon

‘Blockers’ Star Geraldine Viswanathan Is Not Here For Your Sex Shaming

Sandra Song
2018-04-06T17:30:00.000Z

Geraldine Viswanathan and her movie dad, John Cena, are the undeniable scene-stealers of Kay Cannon’s R-rated prom comedy Blockers. Playing Kayla—a confident, all-around overachiever who makes a pact with her two best girlfriends to lose their virginities on prom night—newcomer Viswanathan had a big role as the daughter of a WWE legend. Spoiler: She ended up outshining him in one of the more surprising blockbuster comedies to come to the big screen in recent memory. While the premise may seem banal to some on initial glance, Blockers is a pretty solid film, conceptually-speaking. As a film that paints the precocious obsession over female sexuality as an antiquated, fumbling relic, Blockers completely switches up the narrative—putting the power of in the hands of a trio of teen girls who carry the film with eloquence and sharp wit. 

It’s something Viswanathan credits director Cannon for, noting that the first draft of the script was much different from the one she ended up bringing to life. From exploring the lines of consent (Kayla makes a point of telling her date ahead of consuming alcohol that she’s determined to have sex) to making fragile masculinity the literal butt of the joke with a Cena butt-chugging scene, it’s ultimately a film that encourages parents to stop projecting their own issues upon their daughters’ sexualities and embrace the strength in vulnerability, even if it is initially kicked off in a pretty misguided way. 

Needless to say, we felt the need to talk to Viswanathan ahead of Blockersnationwide premiere about everything from flipping the script on traditional gender norms to upending audience expectations. Read our Q&A below.

What drew you to Kayla?
I liked being a teenage girl who's so confident and aggressive in the way that she does things. She's so down and game to do anything, which is really from her athletic upbringing. Plus, her dad is so intense, so she has a lot of these traditionally masculine qualities. I also loved the relationship between her and the girls. And Kayla’s relationship with her dad. I thought it was all so relatable. 

Your family’s dynamic in the movie was particularly interesting to me, with John Cena playing your dad. He’s kind of the epitome of what most people would think when you say super-macho heteromasculinity. What was it like to see him embrace this role?
He's so great. He's a lot more than what meets the eye. You see him, and you're like, "He's this giant wrestling dude," but he's so sweet, really smart, and well-spoken. I learned a lot just by being around him. He's very wise.  

It was also really cool to see him married to Sarayu Rao, who [plays] this badass Indian woman. And I think Kay Cannon was quite responsible for that, and Universal, as well...I think it's good filmmaking. Like, why can't John Cena be the super-emotional, stay-at-home dad? And why can’t the mom be this badass, working mother? It's such a cool dynamic. I really like that scene with [Kayla’s mom] Marcy, when she’s talking to the rest of the parents and is like, "This is messed up." You can kind of see where Kayla gets her feistiness from. 

I think there's been some misunderstanding surrounding the film, with a lot of people initially dismissing it based on its premise. What do you think about that?
I guess the concept itself does sound inherently sexist, but the film is a journey about discovering why that [virginity stigma for girls] exists, and why it's bullshit. [The shaming] is all coming from the parents, and, trust me, the parents are not the heroes in this movie. They learn their lessons. 

All the kids actually are great. [Our dates,] they are purely there for the girls, they are so respectful of our choices, which I don't know if I've seen before in a high school, virginity-loss prom comedy. It’s is not just for the gag. I think it’s a good example of how we should interact with each other when it does come to the time. I think it's a really nice depiction of these kinds of decisions in [teen] relationships. 

I also think it's cool that this movie also might attract audiences that go in thinking that it's just gonna be a silly John Cena butt-chugging movie, but then end up walking out being like, "Wow, I'm surprised by the thought behind that film." I hope they can learn something and we can turn a new page in the way we depict young women. I think, if it was marketed as this feminist movie, it might deter some people, which is sad, but, at the end of the day, the goal is to get as many people on the same page.

Do you think this movie is gonna kick off a new wave of feminist blockbusters?
It's definitely funny that it's taken this long to have [a feminist film made in this] format and with a fresh perspective. I guess that's the Kay Cannon touch. She did Pitch Perfectshe wrote all those films—it has a very similar, female empowerment perspective and is very genuine. I hope that it at least inspires people to get more creative with their storytelling because it's a real honor to be part of something where none of the three [protagonists] are white, straight guys.

Another thing that I love about the movie is that the women get to be just as funny, silly, and outrageous as guys are allowed to. There's an idea in comedies that, if you want to be a strong female, you need to be stoic and flawless. But a good character is someone who gets to have the same opportunities as guys—they get to be just as flawed and out there as the men.

Blockers hits theaters nationwide today.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[Chloë Sevigny And Charlie Plummer On The Secrets To Working With Horses]]> https://nylon.com/articles/lean-on-pete-interview-chloe-sevigny-charlie-plummer 2018-04-06T13:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/lean-on-pete-interview-chloe-sevigny-charlie-plummer \ NYLON en 2018-04-06T13:30:00.000Z Chloë Sevigny And Charlie Plummer On The Secrets To Working With Horses culture, film

Chloë Sevigny And Charlie Plummer On The Secrets To Working With Horses

Noah Jackson
2018-04-06T13:30:00.000Z

There are so many compelling reasons to watch Lean On Pete, it’s impossible to pick a single entry point. Andrew Haigh’s third feature which follows the tragic results of the friendship between a neglected teen and an aging racehorse, Lean On Pete marks another triumph, not only for the English director but also for his impeccably selected cast.

Haigh exploded onto the international scene with 2011’s Weekend, a tender portrait of contemporary queer romance, and surpassed expectations with his sophomore outing, 2015's complex and affecting 45 Years. With Lean On Pete, Haigh upgrades the domesticity of his previous pictures to a widescreen depiction of the American West, traveling from the rundown suburbs and crumbling horse tracks around Portland, Oregon, to rolling plains, neon-lit rest stops, and the streets of Denver. Yet despite the shift in style and setting from his earlier work, Pete retains the restraint and understated drama characteristic of a Haigh film.

That’s partly due to Lean On Pete’s excellent source material. Haigh adapted the script from the novel of the same name by Willy Vlautin, the lyricist for Oregon country band Richmond Fontaine and an acclaimed novelist. Vlautin comes across as a spiritual descendant of John Steinbeck in his unsentimental yet sympathetic approach to the low-income communities of the so-called “frontier states.” Lean On Pete touches on a number of hot-button issues, from the erosion of working-class culture to juvenile homelessness and the failures of the state to care for its most vulnerable citizens, but neither Vlautin’s novel nor Haigh’s adaptation attempt to be documentary, both are ultimately driven by a cast of strong, memorable characters.

And it’s the actors behind those characters who represent the emotional core of the movie. Charlie Plummer, recently lauded for his role as John Paul Getty III in All the Money in the World, shines as protagonist Charlie, whose immersion into the world of horse racing leads him on an odyssey, while Steve Buscemi expertly plays to type as gruff horse trainer Del. Haigh also draws out a nuanced performance from Charlie Fimmel, previously best known for his dubious hair styling on History’s Vikings. Chloë Sevigny rounds out the cast as Bonnie, a rare female rider among a sea of male jockeys. NYLON sat down with Plummer and Sevigny to discuss the emotional and physical labor that went into bringing Lean On Pete to life.

Lean On Pete is an extremely powerful script, based on an extremely powerful novel. What were your first thoughts when you were introduced to the screenplay?
Charlie Plummer: I had no idea what to expect. I just heard that Andrew was doing it and I knew of 45 Years. I’d read like a little description of the story, and it sounded interesting, and then I read the script, and I was just blown away by it, I hadn’t really read anything like it. It just wasn’t sentimental at all, and it was really so honest all the way through. Something just really stuck with me about the character and his journey, with being so isolated and having to endure so much suffering.

Chloë Sevigny: I read the book and then speaking with Willy [Vlautin], he gave me pages and pages of research he had done on these female jockeys and different stories and basically the woman who Bonnie is based on, her story from childhood to the present and just the hardships she had to deal with. And that race world is a really dark place, from the gambling to the drug addiction to, you know, unfortunately, how some of the animals are treated. It was just a world that I didn’t really know very much about either, and I wanted to kind of live in that and experience it. It was easy to find a way into that character through even just going to the track one day, or even being around the horse people that were teaching us how to deal with the horses and how to ride.

How would you characterize working with Andrew?
CS: I was a fan of Andrew as a filmmaker and the way he allows you to just live this life with his characters and doesn’t steer you any direction of how to feel. He allows scenes to just play out and you can just watch emotion on characters’ faces in his movies and experience their stories just by watching them without sentimental cues or music. The reserve with which he makes his films is so different and rare and, to me, beautiful to watch.

How deep did you get into the world of horses?
CP: I had spent a few weeks out there before we started filming and I worked with Starsky, who plays Pete and just working by learning how to clean his stalls, learning how to walk him around and give him baths and stuff like that. Once we were on location, we were working with a lot of people who had spent their entire lives [in that world], whether it be as a jockey or a trainer or what have you, and they were so open in sharing their experiences with us and making sure it was as authentic as it could be. I did have a really wonderful time, especially working with Starsky because he was such a sweet guy and his trainers were wonderful. I miss him a lot.

CS: Yeah, the only tension was between our trainers and the real trainers. It wasn’t bad, but it was kind of funny. We were all kind of amused by it. But there’s so much sensitivity around horses because of the systemic abuse of horses in the movies, and so the horses came first, before Charlie and me. Whenever a horse is on the set, it was like babies on the set. Everybody has to get hushed and, you know, no perfumes, you have to be very sensitive.

CP: No yelling. No hairspray or anything like that. You gotta be careful.

The scene in which Pete gets hit by the car is one of the most harrowing in the movie. How did you go about shooting it?
CP: That was a difficult scene. We shot it at dusk, so we only had about 40 minutes to shoot that whole sequence. I think whenever you’re working with a live animal, it’s really tense. You’re crunched for time, but, at the same time, you have to respect the animal and make sure they feel safe and comfortable, especially with a scene of that intensity. If I hadn’t had a director who was so level-headed and had such patience and was so balanced overall, then it could have been a total shitshow. But because I think Andrew is the opposite of that, it made for a really beautiful scene and one that’s hard to watch but, I think, it’s just kind of breathtaking, too.

Charlie, your relationship with Steve’s character in the film is extremely intense. How did you get into character for the more confrontational scenes?
CP: We shot the film almost entirely in sequence, so it was easy for me. I basically just had to wake up every day and whatever was coming next was what was actually coming next in the film. What’s so great about Steve, in particular, is, he’s such a kind and warm person that you just trust him so much. So, for me, even in a scene like that when he’s being so nasty and so bitter, he still has a level of kindness, and it was kind of challenging to just hate him in that way.

The film touches on issues of poverty, homelessness, and disappearing communities. What sort of work do you feel Lean On Pete is doing in the current cinematic landscape?
CP: It’s certainly putting a spotlight on youth in America that aren’t really talked about, and I think how easy it is for people, and especially young people, to just fall through the cracks. In this story, we start with a kid who has a father and has a home and then has a job and is starting to really get a sense of community, and then all the sudden, in a span of weeks, that is just stripped from him. It was interesting when we were shooting the stuff that takes place in Denver when he’s homeless. There would be no crew on the streets, and I would just be walking around and the camera would be following me and I didn’t notice it but Andrew had come up to me and said how fascinating it was how people would look at me with such anger and disgust, because they genuinely thought I was someone who looked like that. There’s a lot to pick apart about the film and dive into. It does show America in a very specific way and in a beautiful way at times, but at the same time in a brutally honest way, and really ugly way. And people can interpret that in any way they choose.

Both of you filmed a number of sequences with the horses. What were your most memorable horse moments from Lean On Pete?
CP: There was a moment where I’m feeding [Starsky] water out of my hand and stuff like that, where I remember when we started, that would’ve been so terrifying to me, but by the end, I felt really comfortable with him and it just felt like we were good buddies. And there were some scenes that were really difficult too. Like at Portland Downs when he’s racing, and there’s this one shot of me running through the crowd as the horses run by that we only could do one time because of the horses There was a lot of pressure on that; if we messed it up, it would’ve been totally screwed. There were lots of memorable things about those horses because they’re beautiful animals but also can be a challenge at times.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[7 Of The World’s Best Desert Destinations]]> https://nylon.com/articles/best-desert-destinations-the-zoe-report 2018-04-05T21:00:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/best-desert-destinations-the-zoe-report \ NYLON en 2018-04-05T21:00:00.000Z 7 Of The World’s Best Desert Destinations culture

7 Of The World’s Best Desert Destinations

The Zoe Report
2018-04-05T21:00:00.000Z

Curated by Rachel Zoe and her team of editors and stylists, The Zoe Report is not only your stop for all things fashion and beauty but all-around lifestyle as well. Check out their site for everything from shopping tips to dating advice, to the latest in celebrity news.

“My hair looks perfect out in the desert, it’s unbelievable. It’s like, perfectly not frizzy.” — Jenny Lewis 

The desert is a polarizing landscape; unlike more universally beloved beach destinations, this genre of sand-covered locale is not for everyone. Or at least, not at first. But even the most dubious visitor—"there’s nothing here"—eventually succumbs to the inexplicable mystical charms unique to these arid areas of the world. Even if for reasons having only to do with vanity.

Below, find seven desert destinations worth escaping to, whether it be for lack of humidity or the sense of peace, awe and surrender that is, in most cases, inevitable.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[‘A Quiet Place’: Where Any Noise Means Death]]> https://nylon.com/articles/quiet-place-review-john-krasinski-emily-blunt 2018-04-05T14:30:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/quiet-place-review-john-krasinski-emily-blunt \ NYLON en 2018-04-05T14:30:00.000Z ‘A Quiet Place’: Where Any Noise Means Death culture, film

‘A Quiet Place’: Where Any Noise Means Death

Jesse Hassenger
2018-04-05T14:30:00.000Z

For a little while, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place seems to be designed exclusively to grapple with the challenge of exposition in horror cinema: How much to explain about where the scary threat comes from, and when to explain it, and who or what to saddle with that burden.

Plenty of horror movies avoid or at least downplay these issues by keeping the evil forces mysterious, or the characters’ point of views limited. But while A Quiet Place has fewer than half a dozen major characters, it isn’t particularly interested in ambiguity, and so those characters are boxed in by exactly the kind of circumstance that involves more elaborate understanding of what’s happening to them than, say, the demonic sex ghost of It Follows, which exists in part as an unsolvable, dread-filled puzzle.

Yet even though A Quiet Place conveys a lot of its information within five or 10 minutes, a nagging instinct remains, insisting that to spell out even the premise would be to spoil Krasinksi’s craft. This is especially silly because not all of the movie’s attempts to rewrite its exposition work. So anyone who wants to go into this film as cold as possible should turn back, and anyone comfortable with a slight tease should know that the smartest smidgen of expositional hints I’ve seen in a while comes in the opening moments of this movie, where a family (parents played by Krasinski and Emily Blunt) creeps through an abandoned grocery store in near-silent search of supplies. In several shots, the camera catches but doesn’t linger on shelves still well-stocked with bags of crunchy snacks. By the time the opening sequence is through, this detail makes total sense: Even if humanity is foraging abandoned buildings for food, the pop, rustle, and crunch of potato chips aren’t worth the risk. The creatures will hear these noises, and they will find you.

Again, this is not a delayed revelation: There are creatures lurking around this emptied-out, woodsy suburb, though their appearance is hidden for much of the film. But it’s quickly apparent that these things are so attuned to the sounds humans make that any noise above a murmur brings them out with a vengeance; in a single swoop, the movie tacitly explains where all the other people are (at least in this particular area). This is, in the words of the onscreen text, day 89, although we quickly skip ahead to about a year later. As the movie follows the family around their sand-softened, sign language-heavy, extremely watchful daily routine, the tension over sound is high, but one aspect brings glorious relief: The exposition must stay on mute.

This doesn’t mean that it’s all as elegant as the movie’s opening minutes. The father keeps a basement study, of sorts, with headlines about the creatures tacked up for little discernible purpose beyond tantalizing snippets of the world before these creatures for the audience (“IT’S SOUND!” proclaims one rag from the New York metro area). Significantly worse are the whiteboards he keeps, chronicling the lack of brainstorms happening over a year into this terrible new normal, keeping track of the number of creatures known to be in their area (which would make sense if that number weren’t just three), and “weakness??” scrawled out as a wholly unnecessary reminder that this family is not aware of any soft spots in their nemeses. (Is it an unfair fantasy to picture producer Michael Bay insisting on this bit of set decoration?)

Apart from the wall pinnings that literally spell things out, though, A Quiet Place moves as carefully and masterfully as the bedeviled family—and eventually, it becomes clear that its formal restrictions don’t just affect the communication of backstory. Instead, the fact that only a handful of lines rise above a whisper (with many much lower than that) recalibrates the entire experience of watching a mainstream horror picture. Jump scares, those much-maligned cheap tactics of so much bad horror, become jumpier because they’re not just soundtrack stings; they’re how these characters experience bursts of chaotic noise. In scenes that focus on the family’s deaf older daughter (Millicent Simmonds, the talented and actually deaf young actress from Wonderstruck), sound, rather than vision, functions as a point-of-view cue. And with dialogue kept mostly to whispers and subtitled signs, the “heart” of the movie, the part of so many contemporary horrors that feels like it’s being typed up with one eye on a screenwriting manual, beats louder and clearer than usual. Krasinski, who has a family with Blunt in real life, is interested in the elemental function of parenting, when a whole lot of extra stuff—a lot of the good stuff, really—is cruelly stripped away. It’s terrifying and touching, which is to say pretty true to the experience of having a family.

It would be easy to oversell A Quiet Place with the fact that it does what it does very, very well. The back half of the movie is basically one extended set piece with a few brief moments of respite, with especially bravura work from Blunt. It’s possible that no actor-filmmaker combo has so effectively wrung so much tension out of literally being barefoot and pregnant. Yet the endangerment of children and a pregnant lady is one more horror trope that A Quiet Place redeems through sheer force of craft. For the most part, Krasinski knows how to place and move his camera, when to zero in on a terrible detail that is about to turn crucial, and which sound effects to crank up in place of human speech. At first, it feels like a technical challenge; by the end, you may feel like, if anything, dude’s just showing off.

© NYLON Media I, LLC. All rights reserved.
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<![CDATA[Taking Wing: Behind The Scenes At The New Women-Only Workspaces]]> https://nylon.com/articles/women-workspaces-wing-rise-hera-hub 2018-04-05T13:00:00.000Z https://nylon.com/articles/women-workspaces-wing-rise-hera-hub \ NYLON en 2018-04-05T13:00:00.000Z Taking Wing: Behind The Scenes At The New Women-Only Workspaces culture

Taking Wing: Behind The Scenes At The New Women-Only Workspaces

Kristen Evans
2018-04-05T13:00:00.000Z

“Women are operating in a business world we did not create,” Felena Hanson, founder and CEO of Hera Hub, a female-focused coworking space that opened in San Diego in 2011, told me over the phone. Hanson said that while women are born collaborators, traditionally competitive workplaces can devalue connection and collaboration. She intentionally designed Hera Hub to operate differently. “It's not a place to network,” she explained. “It's a place to be part of a bigger movement.”

You could say that Hera Hub, one of the first female-focused coworking spaces in the country, is itself part of a bigger movement. In the past seven years, other spaces like it have cropped up all over the country: Paper Dolls in Los Angeles, RISE Collaborative Workspace in St. Louis, and The Wing, with its infamous no-men-allowed policy, which started in New York, and which has announced expansion to Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, London, Seattle, San Francisco, and Toronto, thanks to a $32 million investment from WeWork. 

While The Wing’s millennial pink walls and color-coded bookshelves—featuring only women-authored books—have made huge waves in New York and on Instagram, Hanson had harnessed the appeal of coworking without tech bros in SoCal a decade ago. She ditched ping-pong tables, cubicles, and concrete floors in favor of soft lighting, open workspaces, and a collaborative community. Hera Hub did something much more radical than just offer women comfortable spaces to work sans dudes. Hanson’s coworking space, and the sites it would inspire across the country, also provided programming to help women start and run successful businesses, connect with other women like them, and build social capital.

“Having a space with a community of almost 200 members with a vast amount of social capital is where you're going to see the real impact and create the pipeline for success,” says Stacy Taubman, the founder of RISE Collaborative Workspace, which opened last year in St. Louis. She spoke with me on her drive back from Denver, where RISE may open a potential sister site.

“When you can walk into a place and feel a sense of being at home and have that positive energy—it's addictive,” Taubman said. “It changes how you feel, and it changes how you operate.”

But, as with all membership-only spaces, there is the matter of cost—and access. The Wing will set you back $250 per month, about average for these spaces (though a membership at one of the many WeWork locations in New York City could run you $450). However, attempts are made to be economically inclusive; in November, The New York Times reported that Wing co-founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan plan to offer scholarships beginning this year. This is something Taubman is working on, too. RISE offers trade memberships, as well as scholarships, via its nonprofit.

In late March, The Wing also attracted the attention of the New York Human Rights Commission, which opened an investigation into its membership policies. The Wing’s legal representation has pushed back against this characterization in the press, calling the investigation a “conversation” in The New York Times. Still in its earliest days, the investigation has raised both the ire of Wing members on social media (#IStandwithTheWing) and support from legal groups like NYCLU, the New York arm of the American Civil Liberties Union, which cites concerns about potential discrimination against gender-nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people and raises pertinent questions about how female-exclusive spaces intersect with the LGBTQ+ community. The Wing, for example, features trans women like model and actress Hari Nef in its promotional materials. Hera Hub states that, while the coworking space is “female-focused,” it is not exclusive to women (its materials don’t mention gender identity). RISE Collaborative’s membership language is phrased similarly.

Investigations notwithstanding, granting access to those who don’t otherwise easily have it is what these spaces are all about. At a foundational level, female-focused coworking spaces and social clubs address the imbalance that women experience in the workplace. And, in their best form, they can also be an intersectional endeavor to expand the reach of institutional wealth and knowledge closely safeguarded by white men. 

RISE member Nicci Roach tells me how important access to women-focused spaces, with their wealth of tangible and intangible resources, is for her. “I’m a woman of color, and we have different barriers that we are fighting through,” said Roach. “I believe that our emotional side, that psychological side, gets chiseled away a little faster than those who are not of color,” she added. “If I have my mind right, and my emotions in check, I can go out and move mountains. But if that's off, and I’m not centered, then you can give me so many resources, and I can still not make it.” 

With any number of obstacles in their way, it’s no wonder that entrepreneurial women want access to professional spaces of their own. Women have agitated for generations to change economic and social policies that disproportionately favor men—in fact, says Alexis Coe, in-house historian at The Wing, it’s part of the history of the social club. 

“It was a space that women turned to when they were excluded,” said Coe of the first social clubs founded in New York, right after the Civil War. By the ‘20s and ‘30s, they were also the locus of reform work, including the “social welfare institutions that were nonexistent to black communities,” she added.

Our current period of backlash against systemic sexism is a stark reminder of how far we still have to go to achieve safety and equality in the workplace. The #MeToo movement has highlighted how almost every industry fails to adequately address sexual harassment, while data about the gender pay gap remains grim. White women only earned 83 percent to the male dollar in 2015, and the numbers are far worse for women of color

Even if women blaze past these stumbling blocks, “lean in” at work, and climb the corporate ladder, they become dispirited because a system built to favor white men sets them up to fail—or stagnate. As for benefits like paid maternity leave or on-site childcare? The mandatory support for new working parents in countries like France and the U.K. is basically nonexistent in America unless you’re an elite corporate worker. (Interestingly, there’s a coworking solution for this, too—in Columbia, Missouri, Amanda Quick recently started The Hatchery, a workspace for parents that provides on-site childcare.)

While female-focused coworking spaces and networking communities are springing up in order to address the structural disadvantages women still face in business and the economy at large, they also might be able to tell us something about how to build a better, more inclusive work culture from the ground up. Unlike corporate environments, coworking spaces neutralize the idea of competition and create opportunities for collaboration, much as Hanson envisioned when she started Hera Hub. Among all the women I spoke to, the idea of collaboration was a prominent thread, the magic quality that made their respective communities different from working alone or in a traditional office place. Taubman says this atmosphere fosters “atta girl” moments that can build confidence; Hanson pins it on a working environment that invites meaningful connection.

This environment ultimately helped Nichole MacDonald, a Hera Hub member, take her handbag design from initial concept to a $2.8 million company. “I went through a business incubator with a five-week program to put together my business plan,” MacDonald said of her experiences. “I had a clearer vision of my product and used that time as a focus group.” She also met a fellow Hera Hub member and life coach—who wound up to be her very first investor. For contract workers and solo business owners, moments and connections like these can be especially powerful, and a supportive network can be the deciding factor between a good and bad year, a successful or failed business. 

Social capital is crucial for women of color, the fastest growing population of business owners in America. “Those resources are not just tangible things,” said Roach, who recently left her job to work full-time on Mosaic Ceiling, a nonprofit dedicated to driving social change for women of color. “The intangible, I think, is what's really the secret ingredient to this collaborative workspace. The confidence. The pat on the back. The hugs.”

Of course, not every organization can afford collaborative flatness all the time. Businesses need decision-making structures to get things done and hold employees accountable. But a more collaborative workplace culture might look like one in which women can speak up in meetings without men talking over them, in which they are regularly acknowledged and promoted for their work. After all, you collaborate with your peers—your social equals—but you compete with someone you want to best—out of a promotion, a project, or a customer—even an idea. Add toxic gender and racial relations into the mix, and it’s no wonder work environments of all stripes grind women down.

Policy can help guide culture in the right direction, but culture only shifts when individuals in power make intentional change. Roach, a former academic administrator in charge of diversity and inclusion at her institution, saw this constantly in conversations about diversifying workplaces. There’s lots of attention paid to increasing the numbers of diverse candidates, she says, but less attention paid to building supportive relationships once those candidates arrive. 

“So often, we get so lost trying to remain in compliance. Trying to check the box,” Roach told me. “But we never get to the point where we focus on the culture.”

Decision-makers must devote time and resources to intentionally changing what happens every day in the workplace. This might mean, at some point, letting men in on the lessons learned in female-focused coworking spaces. Both Hanson and Taubman stress that they’re interested in having these conversations with the male members and visitors who use their respective spaces.

“I don't believe change happens without conversation,” Taubman said. “There's a lot of men out there that are part of the solution and want to be part of the solution. They may or may not have all the tools necessary to do that, but they're just as eager to see the change as we are.”

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