At a wedding-rehearsal dinner a couple weeks ago, my friends and I were hanging out on the front stoop of the hosts’ apartment building, drinking beer and talking angrily about a turdy dude who wronged a woman we love. There was a brief lull in the conversation, during which a sweet pre-adolescent voice like a choir boy’s asked from a previously unnoticed perch at the top of the stairs: “Have you guys ever thought about meditation?” It was our introduction to Logan, the 11-year-old cousin of the groom. He smiled at us with the sort of patience a teacher gives a student who knows the answer to a question but hasn’t spit it out yet. We looked at each other like, This kid is correct, we should actually do that, thanked him for the idea, and then realized we would not be picking up where we left off. The subject was changed to who knows what, and in the next pause Logan piped up again: “Have you guys ever noticed that you’re not in college anymore, but you SEEM like you’re in college? It’s cool.” We couldn’t argue with this observation either. It did not feel cool, though, especially because some of us have not been in college for about as long as Logan has been alive. Later that night, it seemed like everyone had a story about him—my favorite being that he had grandly announced “Welcome to my square!” to a group of people who were talking about the neighborhood we were in, Logan Square. The next evening, before the wedding, he asked the groom with some concern, “Do you know what happens during the honeymoon?” The groom asked Logan if he knew, and he replied, “Yeah, me and that bald photographer over there will show you.” After the ceremony, the DJ had barely warmed up before Logan was in the center of the dance floor. He was wearing a navy blazer and neat pair of khakis that made him look like a miniature Congressional aide, but throwing his arms around in ways that resembled the moves of a maniac wizard. I watched him spin until his curly blond hair became a blurry spot and wondered what else Logan had noticed about us. —Lena
Australian Ice Cream Parlor Nose Man
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world; many people there have had to undergo surgeries because of it. When my friend Q. was a kindergarten-age Australian, he went out for ice cream with his mother. He’s waiting on line in the ice cream parlor, holding his mom’s hand while she reads the menu. Ahead of them in line is a tall man in a gray suit, who turns around to stare at Q. over his mother’s shoulder. Q. meets his gaze, and quickly, without much movement, the man pulls off his prosthetic nose to reveal the dark area behind it and just as quickly, before anyone else sees, pops the nose back on. He then turns back around and orders a nice big ice cream sundae. Q. never unquestioningly trusts the world again. Whenever I am the sole witness to something so strange that I become aware of my sweaty finger-grip on reality itself, or every time I put on sunscreen, I think of Australian Ice Cream Parlor Nose Man. I wish I could give him 15 stars: five for turning a negative into a positive by trolling children, five for his public health message of the importance of sun protection, and five because he had cancer. Come on you guys, don’t be dicks. —Lola
Last week Eleanor and I went to the Wallace Collection, a museum in London that’s filled with 18th-century French paintings, porcelain, and everything pastel and gold. The staff didn’t seem to like us from the start, because we accidentally used flash when we were shooting photos and even forgot to leave our little bags in a cloakroom. While we were looking at the rococo paintings upstairs we heard the voice of the old guard on the other side of the room: “Excuse me, miss—your skirt has just brushed the piece of art.” It’s true. I did it. A piece of my clothing accidentally touched a chair. In a museum! That’s the story how my criminal career started, among the roses, greyhounds and The Happy Accidents of the Swing. —Marjainez
Screaming Bike No-Texty Man
I was walking to the train in downtown Chicago after work when I heard it: the uncontrolled screaming of a seriously pissed off-person. I didn’t see anyone, so I kept walking, and then suddenly the source of the screaming came into view: At the red light, a long line of cars was waiting, and weaving in and out of them, on his bike, was a man dressed in full spandex bike=racing gear. He was looking into each car window and either skipping individual cars or suddenly SLAMMING into a car window, beating on the windows with his fists, and screaming, “IF YOU TEXT! AND DRIVE! I WILL COME IN THERE! AND RIP YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!!!! IF YOU TEXT! AND DRIVE! I WILL COME IN THERE! AND RIP YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!!!!” at the top of his lungs, his face a brilliant purple. I’ve never seen anyone that furious, ever. I stood there transfixed, just watching, because living in a big city has turned my heart into a shriveled black lump of coal and I now savor scenes like this as one might enjoy a particularly fine cheeseburger. The light turned green and the cars drove away. The light turned red. The cars piled up again. Screaming Bike No-Texty Man wheeled through the line of cars, and then suddenly threw down his bike and SLAMMED HIS BODY against the windshield of a car with a teenage girl on her phone in the driver’s seat, screaming, “IF YOU TEXT! AND DRIVE! I WILL COME IN THERE! AND RIP YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!!!! PUT THAT FUCKING PHONE AWAY!!! YOU ALMOST KILLED ME!!!” The poor girl shrieked and put her hands over her mouth. Screaming Bike No-Texty Man rolled neatly off her windshield, hopped onto his bicycle, and continued through the line of cars, still screaming about texting and driving. I walked to my train, where there was a cop, and I told him what was going on up the street. I would give Screaming Bike No-Texty Man five stars for spreading an important public-safety message, but I need to subtract two because he was clearly dangerous, then subtract one more for frightening a teenage girl, and then subtract one more because, frankly, that level of anger is not sustainable, and he should know better at his age. —Krista
Two old ladies
A couple months ago, shortly before my high school graduation, I was taking the school bus home and I noticed an orange double house that was completely decorated from roof to driveway in pinwheels and windchimes and pink flamingo lawn ornaments. It looked a lot like Howl’s room from Howl’s Moving Castle. It was just a huge mess of shiny, colorful moving things. Then I noticed these two old ladies sunbathing in the front yard in matching shirts and sunglasses, drinking what I’m sure was lemonade. After that I made a point of checking out the house every day as the bus went by—the old ladies were always outside, adding something new to the house or gardening or painting, always in matching shirts. Then one day as I peered out the window hoping to see them lounging side by side on their colorful chairs, I saw something that ruined my whole week. Half of the house had been rented to someone with a huge SUV that took up most of the driveway; and all the pinwheels and flamingos had been removed from their side, which now looked bare and lifeless. What’s worse, the old ladies’ side now looked like a pile of junk that had been pushed aside rather than a joyful spectacle. I haven’t seen the two old ladies since. I still think about them from time to time though. —Ana
Random girl on the bus
She was like fresh-baked bread with little sparrow limbs. She was dressed in faded white. Her eyes were the same shade as her skin, warm and arrogant. I wanted to bite her upturned nose and tell her she was delicious. She spoke and her teeth were white and pointy through almost parted lips, moist and reminding me of chocolate that smelt like old decomposing lipstick. Her hair was cut in a shag, hooding her eyes. She was hanging off a handrail in a bus stinking with people, light and swaying like summer evenings. I could have broken her little bird neck with one hand but strangely that did not make me feel at all powerful. She was chattering away to her friend, into whose back I was inadvertently pressing. The bus roared and coughed and splattered diesel and she hung on, swaying, so beautiful. —Ragini
I love Jim Jarmusch’s movies, but who even cares about that? More important are the two times I encountered him in person, which both left me high for days. The first time was at a memorial reading at my college for the late poet Kenneth Koch, who is one of my favorite writers of all time. I put my coat down on a folding chair and stepped out to go to the bathroom, on the way to which I passed the most beauteous man I have ever personally seen: yep, Jim Jarmusch. He gave me this appraising head-tilty look as he passed me in the hallway and I promptly vaporized. Later that evening I learned he was there to read some rare poetic “films” by Kenneth Koch, which is how I discovered that Jim Jarmusch has not only the perfect face, but also a voice that sounds like a coffee grinder—bitter and abrasive and deep and low—and then my VAPOR vaporized. Between the beauty of the writing and the vessel delivering it it to me, the experience was totally insane. It felt like sex, really, if I can be gross with you guys.
The second time I saw Jim Jarmusch was about a month after I had started a really shitty job that I hated. I was incredibly late to said life-sucking place of employment, like late to the point of “It doesn’t even matter anymore, I’ll just stop and pet this adorable husky puppy that’s sitting on the sidewalk because I’m in trouble anyway,” which is exactly what I did. As I stood up from kneeling, I stumbled into the path of Jim Jarmusch, who was all in black, tall and lean, and looking at me, again, in that tilty way. It totally beat out the husky puppy as an all-encompassing antidote to my morning, so you know the dude must have some kind of supreme presence in person, truly.
A final note: Did you SEE him totally sunglasses’d out and cracking a smile against his will in the new Jay-Z video? AND HE’S DOING THE HEAD TILTING THING!! My heart is ruined for every other dude on earth, sorry. —Amy Rose
My best friend
I would like to elect my best friend, EMILY, for a People Award, if those exist. She has an amazingly strong, wise head and strong, wise hands (as well as a gorgeous mane of black curls). I remember a while back, back when I was so hung up on schoolwork and me-me-me, and she’d be like, “Hell, lady, I’m gonna go bake some bread.” Or “I’m gonna go weave a rug.” She is a weaver/dyer/baker/sourdough-maker/chef/carpenter amazing amazing doer. She is smart and tough and cool and compassionate and (very important) she is always down to turn up Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” or the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” and dance the shit out of life with me. —Anna M.
Early-Morning Hipster Philosophers
I was sitting at a coffee shop, nervously sipping chai and trying to kill time before a job interview, when I heard a chirpy voice say, “Hank, you could be a hipster! Hahaha!”
“Uh, what’s a hipster?” someone replied, maybe Hank.
“They wear skinny jeans,” Chirpy Voice said.
“Skinny jeans?” someone else asked, sounding bewildered. That’s when I had to peer over my shoulder and assess this situation. Seven people in their mid-to-late-40s were seated at a long table, just hanging out together like friends, at 8:30 in the morning. This situation raised so many questions. Do they have jobs? I wondered. Or is this some sort of business meeting about hipsters? I turned back around to avoid eye contact as they continued:
“They wear the skinny jeans, and like, roll them up to ride their bikes.”
“And mustaches are big!”
“But Hank couldn’t be a hipster because he has hair.” (???)
“Wait, hipsters don’t have hair?” (Thank you!)
“Most of them don’t have hair. Just mustaches.”
For distracting me from my worries about the job interview, I give these grownups two stars. —Stephanie
As a teenager I always dreamed of working with Ace Norton. He’s one of my favorite music video directors because he isn’t afraid to take risks. When I was about 16 years old my dream came true: I finally got a chance to work with Ace on an LCD Soundsystem video involving vampires, sailors, and singing nuns. He was the first director I had ever worked with and definitely one of my first and biggest inspirations when it comes to creativity and direction. In Ace’s world there are no rules except that everything should be entertaining. We became friends on that shoot and I’m happy to say we remain so. He has the coolest house where fake grass grows on the ceiling and a cool dog named Punk. —Dana
I am sitting in the Copenhagen airport waiting for a connecting flight to Sweden at the crack of dawn, sweaty and grotesque from having taken the redeye from New York. The airport is Night at the Museum-style empty, except for me, the Segafredo coffee lady, and this one dude sitting across from me in the seating area outside the gate. It’s that quiet, too, like the airport has reached a meditative state of emptiness, interrupted only by the vague announcements in English and Danish about, like, only smoking in designated areas. Suddenly the dude across from me whips out an old transistor radio, flips around the dials a few times, and turns on what I think are morning prayers in Arabic at basically the loudest setting his radio can possibly go. He is just chilling, bumping that stuff at the same level I would play, like, “Starships.” He just sits there like that for about 35 minutes, then he turns the radio off, gets up, and walks away. The weirdest thing about this scenario is having a transistor radio at all, much less at the airport, but I believe he was feeling his jam that much to crank it house-party style, and not give a hoo what me or the Segafredo lady thought of it. I will use this man as inspiration for when I get back to Brooklyn and maybe start carrying around a boombox, ’80s style. Happy Eid! —Julianne
Ponytail Man and the Matron
Last week I paid my Southern hometown a visit for their annual Girls Rock camp. During my visit I had the pleasure of stopping by the local goth bar for on karaoke night, where goths of all ages congregated to sing their favorite hits. Ponytail Man, as my friends and I called him, got the party started with his own rendition of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice.” Or rather, he jumped into somebody else’s rendition of “Gin and Juice”—like, he literally rushed the stage Kanye-style, then outshone them with his superior familiarity with the lyrics keeping a steady flow without once consulting the TV screen. As others went up to sing their songs, Ponytail Man continued to linger on the steps to the stage, performing soulful interpretive dances to anything from Radiohead to Celine Dion. But the truly magical moment occurred when his partner-in-crime, the matron of that town’s club-goth scene, mounted the stage ensconced in a mesh spiderweb-print cape, took a quick drag from her cigarette, and started rapping Eminem’s “3 AM.” —Suzy X.