Your Party Conversation Cheat Sheet: Gentrification, Hollywood Sexism and Granny Panties

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cheatsheet1Backyard BBQ season is here, friends, and it’s time to ratchet up your party convo game. Here to help is a roundup of articles that caught our attention over the past month, which should give you plenty to of ammunition for your next social gathering. Happy weekend, everybody!

  1. The Department of Justice’s decision to pursue criminal corruption charges against 14 FIFA officials has been covered in depth by every news outfit this week, but the Washington Post had a sobering look at the practical toll of FIFA’s relentless rule-breaking and self-dealing, as measured by human lives lost as a result of the decision, allegedly influenced by extensive bribery, to allow human rights denier Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

  1. A pretty scummy-sounding artist named Richard Prince copied and enlarged pictures from strangers’ Instagram accounts without permission and is now selling them for six figures at Gagosian Gallery, which is the kind of thing that should prompt us all to get our heads out of our asses, read Instagram’s terms and conditions, and take action, but, well, we’re probably not gonna do that.


Anne Bancroft was 36 years old when she played Mrs. Robinson. Photo: The Graduate

Anne Bancroft was 36 years old when she played Mrs. Robinson. Photo: The Graduate

  1. Park Slope resident and famous person Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed last week that a film director told her that she, at 37, was too old to play the love interest of a 55-year-old male character. Anyone who has ever seen a movie could have guessed that this was the prevailing view in Hollywood, but it still sucks to hear it stated so bluntly. What also sucks is seeing this sexism in the aggregate in this follow-up Vox story that charts the ages of female and male romantic leads in classic romcoms and also obnoxiously feels the need to point out that I am now older than Anne Bancroft was when she played MRS. ROBINSON : (
  1. New York Magazine explored a new program at Fieldston Lower, a progressive private elementary school in Riverdale, that requires kids as young as 8 to regularly separate into small groups based on race in order to encourage frank, unvarnished conversations about diversity, stereotypes and racial identity. Although parents at the school are for the most part “exceedingly liberal,” this initiative has been an ongoing source of controversy, for reasons ranging from a general aversion to the notion of sorting people by race to more specific, personal concerns, and it makes for an interesting read.


Eagle Provisions, a popular Polish deli and grocery in South Slope, was bought out after nearly 40 years in operation. Photo: Eagle Provisions

Eagle Provisions, a popular Polish deli and grocery in South Slope, was bought out after nearly 40 years in operation. Photo: Eagle Provisions

  1. Beloved South Slope institution and purveyor of awesome kielbasa Eagle Provisions closed up shop this month after the brothers who have run it since 1979 sold the building to a developer for $7.5 million. As the New York Times noted, the story defies the common narrative about mom-and-pop shops being swallowed by a tidal wave of rising rents, and is emblematic of a different phenomenon, in which longtime real estate owners who could weather gentrification and stay put ultimately decide not to.

  1. In the rarefied world of the highly exclusive, wood-paneled social clubs that dot the landscape of Midtown East and the Upper East Side, the Explorers Club is an outlier: an 111-year-old organization that only grants membership to individuals who have embarked on noteworthy adventures–to the bottom of the Mariana Trench or the surface of the moon, for example–and made significant discoveries for the benefit of humankind. Narratively had a fascinating story on the club, whose ranks have included the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, Neil Armstrong, and James Cameron, and how it persists during a time when it sometimes feels like everything important has already been explored.

  1. The New York Times exposed some disturbing things about the 2,000-plus nail salons in New York City in a pair of articles published in early May. The unconscionably low wages that salon workers earn, coupled with abusive treatment and exposure to severe health risks, will make you think twice before you treat yourself to your next mani/pedi.

  1. My attempt to make it through life without ever knowing anything about the Duggar family were thwarted last week, and now I’m far too well-acquainted with eldest son Josh and the hypocritical, predatory, and despicable behavior that was evidently sanctioned by his family and community. Nonetheless, now that the seal has been broken, I was fascinated by Gawker’s thorough summary of the core belief system underpinning the Quiverfull movement, the aggressively patriarchal Christian sect that counts the Duggars as its most famous adherents.

We interviewed author and gentrification expert DW Gibson about the thing that's always on the top of New Yorkers' minds. Photo: Chiara Barzini

We interviewed author and gentrification expert DW Gibson about the thing that’s always on the top of New Yorkers’ minds. Photo: Chiara Barzini

  1. Our own Nicole Davis interviewed DW Gibson, the author of an illuminating new book called The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the Twenty-First Century, earlier this month. If you missed it, Gibson’s insights about gentrification in New York City add some new contours to a familiar and evergreen discussion topic.

  1. According to The Boston Globe, millennials (particularly female, urban-dwelling millennials) are ditching parties in favor of going to bed early, crafting, shuffleboarding, and pie crust-rolling– so much so that they are becoming known as Generation Yawn, although, to be honest, it’s unclear whether this is a real thing or if this reporter just happened to find a couple of spectacularly unfun, earnest girls to interview for this piece. On the other hand, if 20-somethings actually manage to topple the tyrannical thong regime that has plagued my entire adult life, who cares how they spend their Saturday nights? Granny panties 4EVA!

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