Author Archives: Zach

A Guide to New York City in the Summertime

By Zach

Hey there, Gator acolytes. I’m sorry to have abandoned you for these summer months, but I am not without valid reasons. Foremost on a list that includes items like “drank beer in bed and watched Batman instead of writing” lies a legitimate excuse: I live in New York. Look past the cooking street garbage and knife-wielding psychopaths — it’s the center of world urbanity! There are things to do here.

Let’s go over seven of them.

1) Go to Prospect Park and watch the sports players

Prospect Park on a nice Saturday is more littered with wholesome family goodness than an episode of the Cosby Show. Young parents holding hands, puppies cuddling with toddlers in strollers, all that shit. But it also serves as a venue for sports games played by people who enjoy playing sports.

Volleyball is one of my favorites. It’s played by two subsets of people, the first being guys who played volleyball in high school and the second being friends of that guy who he coaxed off of their picnic blankets. It is the least egalitarian of pickup sports – lots of people have played basketball and soccer before, so you generally see more parity on New York’s asphalt courts and turf fields. By contrast, volleyball draws a mix of Kerri Walsh wannabes and overweight, ponderous 5’8″ men. Lots of mismatches lead to lots of misplaced intensity on one side of the net and lots of apathy on the other. Trust me, very entertaining.

Cricket is also fun if only for its exoticism. I wasn’t exactly sprinting out to recess in elementary school to bowl a few wickets, and I’ve never played it or watched it on TV, but I enjoy watching the West Indians (?) play in the park. There are a number of older guys, probably in their 60s at least, who join in. Either West Indians aren’t ageist, or they’re just trying to emulate the Knicks.

2) Drink on a roof

My mountain-climbing, wood-chopping, forest-dwelling 2009 self pities the 2012 me that gets excited to receive a text containing the words “roof party in Crown Heights.”

3) Hang out with the mole people

Recently, my friend and I were sitting on a bench in Cooper Square, deservedly one of Manhattan’s less-known public plazas, when we noticed some hubbub to our left.

Now, as a good journalist, I’m always on the lookout for hubbub. I swiftly investigated. The commotion came from a drum circle comprising several hobos, a number of trash bags filled with their belongings, what looked like a campfire, and a sleeping, possibly dead dog. (RIP Union Square pit bull.)

I’ve lived in New York long enough to know my grades of hobo. First you have your basic homeless people, not yet indoctrinated on street decorum. They’re on the streets because they’re down on their luck and don’t have a support system (Democratic view) or because they’re lazy food stamp-pilfering drug addicts (Republican view).

Then you have the bums – hobos who just don’t care. They’ll poop on a subway platform during rush hour, for all you and your horrified children care.

Finally, you have your mole people, who literally live in the sewers. I strongly suspect that in Cooper Square, we were watching such persons. And that brings me to my disgusting sub-anecdote: three of them were leaving and stopped right near the bench where my friend and I sat. One forgot something and put his bag down a couple feet from ours while he ran to fetch whatever it was. Another bent down to pick up the bag, and the third mole person cautioned: “Don’t touch that. He’s got body lice.”

IN NEW YORKKKK, CONCRETE JUNGLE WHERE DREAMS ARE MAAAADE OFFFFF

4) Play soccer in a park

New York’s soccer subculture is shockingly resilient throughout the winter months, but everyone comes out to play in the summer. Beware several dangers, though: one, there’s a Hispanic family barbecuing right behind the goalmouth; two, there’s a plump man in a wife-beater who’s kicking everybody; and three, turf-induced staph infections.

Note also that with field space at a premium, New York is not the most welcoming city when it comes to pickup soccer. New people and late arrivals are treated like Mitt Romney at a rap concert. Expect plenty of staring followed by awkward avoidance of eye contact.

5) See a movie

New York, while not legendary for its cinematic tradition, offers what my pig-farming uncle might say is a shit-ton of movie theaters. Yeah, prices aren’t cheap, but I’d opine that Christian Bale raspily barking “Justice” is worth 14 dollars alone. Same goes for Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones pretending to masturbate a chapstick tube.

6) Go buy new suits

Guys, it’s hot out there. There’s no reason to sit at home, crank the A/C and rack up your electricity bill when you can just go rack up someone else’s.

If you’re not in the movie mood, and/or you’d like something tangible to show for your money, why not go buy new suits? I don’t know about you, but it’s the only thing that gets me more excited than buying an orange mocha frappuccino. So that’s what I did yesterday.

What I discovered: Suits are expensive. You have to drop at least four or five hundred dollars if you don’t want the other wedding guests congratulating you on your successful parole hearing. There’s lots of options, too – cummerbund or no cummerbund is the greatest style question of our time. Then you have to decide on your vest style, measure your calves to ensure the ideal fit for your garters, and determine the appropriate level of garishness for your pocket square. Decisions decisions.

I didn’t buy a new suit. But I’m still planning on it once that shifty Men’s Wearhouse salesman guarantees me that his product will make me look the way I’ve long suspected it will.

7) Go to a German beer hall

A German beer hall just opened on the end of my block in Brooklyn. Alcoholism awaits.

Disappointingly, the bartenders aren’t German, nor are the barmaids particularly busty. And they do not seem to appreciate wiener schnitzel jokes or fake German accents to quite the same degree that I do. Those sad creatures.

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The Hipster Avengers: A Screenplay

THE HIPSTER AVENGERS

A Gator Don’t Play No Shit Production

Written by Zach and inspired by Taylor’s drunken sermons

1. EXT. GREENPOINT, BROOKLYN – DUSK

Slow zoom on a lonely warehouse rooftop, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in the background. A masked figure materializes in the shot, crouched at the building’s edge, gazing over the city streets. As the camera draws nearer, we see that he’s shrouded in tight, form-fitting flannel. Closer. We see a moustache. Then, his purple Tye-dye t-shirt, adorned with several wolves howling at the moon. In the distance, we hear a woman scream.

Unnamed Superhero

Huskily, he utters four words.

“Justice will be allotted.”

With that, he leaps onto a unicycle, pedaling furiously and popping into the air over the next roof. Before he disappears, his plaid-caped figure and aluminum, one-wheeled steed are framed against the sunset. He drops from sight.

2. ROLL CREDITS

Credits roll with a random indie-pop song in the background (lute and ukulele will be prominent). Cue hazy 30mm footage of several normal children playing in a variety of settings, only to demonstrate a unique superpower. For one child, this will be knitting 50 scarves in under a minute. For another, writing half of a screenplay for a preschool puppet show, only to decide that they’d rather focus on fingerpainting for the time being. For another, preternatural graphic design abilities.

3. BACK TO GREENPOINT

A young woman wearing jorts and a beret has just exited a coffee shop tearfully. She’s talking on the phone, and we learn that she’d left after arguing with her boyfriend, who discovered that the Korean characters inside the heart-shaped tattoo on her back stand for “Bobby,” her ex. Her boyfriend comes out yelling that he just unfollowed her on Instagram, and then he hops on his electric moped and zips off.

Suddenly, two men walk around the corner. One’s wearing a DARE T-shirt, the other a wife-beater and corduroy pants. They grin wickedly.

Evil Hipster #1 (DARE shirt)

“Hey there purrty. Your tongue piercing sure fires MY kiln.”

Evil Hipster #2 (corduroy shorts)

“Could be the High Life talking, but I’d like to climb YOUR hills on my fixed-gear bike.”

They reach for her.

Helpless female hipster

Screams.

We hear a rattling, and the trio glance up at the warehouse rooftops. There are shadows everywhere – we see the flash of a wheel between two alleys, hear the whoosh of a cape. Then, a can of Four Loko comes flying out of nowhere, knocking the first evil hipster out but leaving the helpless female hipster unscathed. The second one, realizing his peril, makes for his bike, but the pedals are five feet off the ground and he struggles to mount.

Unnamed Superhero

Off-camera, huskily: “That’s not a bike lane.”

Our caped crusader unicycles into frame, leaping off. In one motion he throws a fanny pack, which wraps itself around the evil hipster’s neck, and he and his bicycle careen over the curb and through the window of a nearby gastropub. The electric celloist inside the establishment continues his music, all the more audible now. Our superhero goes over to the stricken damsel, offering her his flannel cape to wipe away the tears.

Helpless female hipster

“Who ARE you?”

Unnamed Superhero

Twirls moustache, looks coolly into the distance. Huskily:

“You’ve probably never heard of me.”

Hops on unicycle, flies away. 

 ________________________________________

A note from Zach:

I know that making jokes about hipsters is about as fresh as making jokes about people who make jokes about hating Nickelback, but I couldn’t resist this one. I was pondering taking it in a different direction, where our hero can’t be bothered to rescue people who are in mainstream predicaments (Timmy fell down a well at a Black Eyed Peas concert!), but perhaps we’ll save that for a new Avenger in our next installment.

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A Fittingly Desultory Return to Posting

By Zach

I’m feeling short on creativity tonight but I wanted to post something, so here’s some jumbled thoughts:

 ***

Twitter is really growing on me. I like how you can tailor it to your interests, which for me is an intersection of news, humor and sports. It’s also far more intellectual platform than Facebook, which strikes me as a tad vapid. OK, they’re both extremely vapid, but Twitter’s a bit more centered around the quality and conciseness of your writing. Needless to say, I need practice. Sign up, follow me, and it’ll be a learning experience for all involved parties.

***

– Euro 2012 has been fantastic so far. It’s been the one thing that makes me appreciative that I’m in a cubicle with a high-speed internet connection all summer. Simply put, the inspiration these players give me is profound. To be a bit clearer, they give me a lot of ideas for stuff I shouldn’t be doing. Andrea Pirlo has convinced me that I, too, can launch a 50-yard inch-perfect crossfield pass and hit a winger in stride. Andres Iniesta is the reason I embark on ill-fated dribbles out of triple teams. Still they’re brilliant, and still I believe.

This actually leads me to the crux of these two paragraphs: my theory that soccer on TV has decreased the team play at your everyday pickup game. I play a lot of pickup in New York, and you constantly see average players forgo the easy pass to try to dribble past five guys. Failed nutmeg attempts, shanked heel passes, skied thirty yard shots. The blame falls on ESPN and its damn World Cup rights.

***

Which brings me here: I’m finishing up Those Guys Have All The Fun, the tell-all oral history of ESPN. The major takeaway: ESPN is really male-dominated, and of those men about 90 percent have massive, massive egos.

***

Team Drake, all the way. More confrontations in my life need to involve bottle throwing. Realistic examples:

Editor angry at me for an error-filled wedding announcement? *Hucks Ciroc

Pregnant woman on crutches giving me the evil eye for staying seated on the subway? *Flings Grey Goose

Girlfriend testy about my open admiration for Catherine Zeta Jones’ age-defiant bosom? *Lobs Patron

***

Improbably, right now I’m listening to Trey Songz croon “I only came forrrrrrrr…THE BITCHES AND THE DRANKS, THE BITCHES AND THE DRANKS.” Somewhere, all my female role models are shaking their heads. 

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A Night At The Garden

By Zach

As a newly transplanted New Yorker and NBA fan, it’s been hugely entertaining for me to watch the Knicks this year. This is probably much more so the case because I don’t actually root for them (I’m a Celtics fan), so I was able to watch dispassionately as their season descended into a macrocosm of exciting, dysfunctional uncertainty. Even at the height of Linsanity, when Lin dropped 38 on Kobe and his two under-utilized stooges, questions abounded. No one in New York knew if the Knicks would even make the playoffs; no one in New York knew if Lin’s transcendence would last until April.

It didn’t. The Knicks entered the playoffs without Lin, lost in late March to a bothersome torn meniscus. Without Lin, the offense devolved into a predictably iso-heavy, Melo-centric barrage of contested jumpers. Valuable seconds were wasted, of the shot clock and of legitimate basketball fans’ lives.

So naturally, for game 3 of the Knicks-Heat series, my girlfriend and I decided to join the craziness for a couple hours, in person as opposed to the tacky Mexican restaurant and dive bar with a projector we’d frequented for games 1 and 2. Game 3 would be better, we surmised — it was at the Garden and the crowd would be going nuts. Amare and his disinterested defense had been extinguished. Bosh went home to watch his egg hatch (a cruel joke, yeah, but Gator never filters itself in the name of kindness).

Even though, by game time, we knew that only the first two assumptions would prove prescient, there was reason for optimism. 7th Avenue was buzzing outside the Garden. Melo shirts abounded, interspersed with the occasional Lin or Stoudemire or I’ve-made-a-huge-mistake-in-purchasing-this Fields jersey. The Knicks dancers were performing in the main entryway, much to the delight of all hairspray and spandex enthusiasts present. Beer still hovered around 10 dollars, but it was flowing!

(On a side note: If I ever own a sports team, I’m definitely lowering the price of beer for the playoffs. With 2 dollar beers, a decent team with home court advantage would ROMP its way to a championship. There’s an undeniable effect that drunk, rowdy fans have on both sets of players and, yes, the referees. Someone should do statistical analysis of that effect sometime. The point is: a trophy should take precedence over profit margins, a few black eyes and some vomit cleanup detail expenses.)

Back to the Garden. One of the best parts of seeing a sporting event live is the pre-game action. The warmups, for starters, can sometimes be pretty illuminating in regards to players’ personalities and team dynamics. Of course, I focused on LeBron, whose physical characteristics are obviously much more easily defined than his personal traits. It’s clear that he’s a specimen (all the more so when you see him in person), but I was interested to see how he acted before the game.

The answer? Kind of insecure, just like you might expect. He insisted on viciously dunking a disproportionate amount of his layup line attempts (missing two in a row at one point), and kept doing this stupid little dance while he waited in line. It was like watching a white middle schooler Dougie.  I’m sure it was his attempt to tell the crowd, “Look at me, I’m relaxed,” but to me it just seemed contrived. But then again I’m a completely biased Celtics fan, and I can’t defend five positions in the NBA.

Everyone in the Garden expected at least a tight game, and they got it. It was ugly. We hadn’t seen offensive sloppiness like this from LeBron, Wade, and Melo in a while, and the offensively sloppy play we’d come to expect from guys like J.R. Smith and Landry Fields hadn’t abated.

That said, the Knicks led at halftime and kept it close until the fourth quarter. We all know how the fourth turned out. I’ll spare you the disaster-GIFs of cats falling out of windows or fat ladies tumbling down stairs. Here are my takeaways:

1) Melo, not LeBron, should have been looking to team up with a superstar these past two seasons. It’s not just that he needs good players surrounding him — he needs good players who bring with them a culture of ball movement and teamwork and who will tell him to buck up, reduce his shot attempts, and get his teammates involved. Iso doesn’t win championships, and when your best three scorers are three players who LOVE to iso in Melo, Amare and J.R. Smith, you’re going absolutely nowhere. We all know it, but I thought I’d reiterate.

2) If the Knicks ever become good, MSG will be absolutely insane during the playoffs. The atmosphere was great even though they were down 2-0 in the series and hobbled. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like if they’re ever a Finals favorite. Of course, this might be in 2019 when Melo’s long gone, they’re built around a Lin-Shumpert backcourt and they have Anthony Davis anchoring the paint following a TV special announcing his decision to take his talents to Broadway.

3) The Heat are eminently beatable this year, but only in the Finals. The Pacers can take a couple games off them, as can the Celtics/Bulls/Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals, but they’re not losing four times in a series before June.

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The Californians

This is from last week, but I just watched it and loved it. Fred Armisen’s first couple lines had me on the floor. The accents are so over the top that it works. Kristen Wiig is also predictably great, and I love how they zoom in on her and Hader just as they’re cracking up.

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The Prospects of Several Presidential Candidates…as Arrested Development Characters

Note: This post first appeared on Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog. 

By Zach

If I were Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich, right now I’d be screaming “I’m a MONSTER!!!” at the top of my lungs. The game is up for these guys. Their thunder has effectively been hidden. The money in the banana stand has gone up in flames. Oscar Bluth won’t be seeing weed legalized anytime soon, and Lucille II will not become Newt’s fourth wife and the inaugural First Moon Lady.

Yep, we know who we’ve settled on for our general election: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. But why don’t we analyze them a bit further, and for that matter take a look at their potential vice presidents and cabinets? As you can probably see from the opening paragraph, I’ve decided to do so using the platform of Arrested Development. If you want to question that choice, go right ahead. I don’t understand your criticisms, and I won’t respond.

Mitt Romney = Gob Bluth

I see numerous parallels between Gob Bluth and Mitt Romney. Right now, flush with that primary-victory-aura that you usually only find in pregnant women (Lindsay Funke, this excludes you), Mitt’s cruising around on his Segway, waving (and bloodily attempting to sheath) his samurai sword with confidence. Largely, he stayed above the Boyfight that developed among the other Republican candidates. And with good reason; Mitt and Gob view themselves as born winners. They’re the guy with the $5,000 dollar suit — I mean, COME ON!!

Barack Obama = Michael Bluth

It might be a little unfair to the Republican field, comparing Obama to the only sane character on the show. I thought it rather apt, though, considering the collective dysfunction of the Republican field vying to run against him.

Look, it’s not like Obama is always successful with his policies. When you run a country, you’re going to get hop-ons.

Rick Santorum = Tobias Funke

Santorum may have peaked too early — he shot his wad prematurely on what was supposed to be a dry run, and now  he has a large mess on his hands. Whoops, lotta poorly chosen words there. But maybe they’re fitting, considering how the gay community has named a unique liquid mixture after everyone’s favorite indignation-machine.

The game’s not necessarily up for Santorum, though. He could still make the Romney ticket, if only to satisfy their rabidly anti-female, tea partying base. But if I were them, I’d be worried that Santorum might come out as a never-nude, or even get caught in a rest stop bathroom with Barry Zuckercorn, their feet straying. Santorum has such a rich history as an analyst and therapist for the nation’s gays, women, immigrants and amateur pornographers that you wonder if his business cards might be getting at something else.

Nevertheless, Santorum has to have his sights set on Romney’s ticket. I’m sure that right now he can just taste those meaty vice presidential man parts in his mouth.

Joe Biden = Carl Weathers

I’m sorry, Joe. I know you’re probably a normal and minimally goofy man, but the Onion and Jason Sudeikis have completely and utterly skewed my perception of you. And I just can’t help but envision you sitting at a table chiding Tobias for finishing his drumstick. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. There’s still plenty of meat on that bone. Now you take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato. Baby, you’ve got a stew going.”

Newt Gingrich = Barry Zuckerkorn

Their personas aren’t all that similar, but I find them to be similarly competent in their chosen professions. If only Newt’s bluster was as endearing as Barry’s dependence on Ask Jeeves for legal matters. Whatever the case, Newt and Barry will have to content themselves with a place in the background, itching the rash on their foreheads.

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Theorems By Gator

By Zach

I was going to call these “Gator’s Theorems,” but I liked how “Theorems By Gator” gives off a more elegant vibe — it sounds like we’re marketing a high-class perfume. Anyway, these are just some random Sunday afternoon thoughts:

– I’m not surprised that the Secret Service has been dabbling with prostitutes, only that they were caught doing it. Those people are specialists in discretion. If anything, I’m surprised that they were only soliciting prostitutes, not working as them. Wouldn’t being a Secret Service agent be the perfect cover for your moonlit career as a hooker? The clients would know in advance that you’re trustworthy, and it’d cut out the middleman when dealing with politicians.

– Every time someone tweets “#makeitplatinum,” a Vermont microbrewery finds a possum floating in the fermentation tank.

–  Survivalists would be much more successful at what they do if they wore edible underwear.

– From Taylor, in a preview of our forthcoming satellite Tumblr, TextsFromTaylor: “When you see homeless people/hobos talking or yelling to themselves, they’re in fact talking to an invisible deity that only appears to people at a dramatic level of poverty.”

– I’ve watched an unholy amount of 30 Rock over the past two days, and have decided this: If Alec Baldwin jumped into the Republican presidential race, in character as Jack Donaghy, accompanied by the promise that if elected he’d shape all policy decisions around the mantra “What would Jack do?”, he’d immediately surge ahead of Mitt Romney. I would vote for Jack Donaghy in a heartbeat. He’s a businessman of the people, someone who thinks about the employees, the pensions, the kittens he uses to test the strength of his microwaves. Donaghy2012.

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Ma’am, Is This a Preexisting Condition?

You mean, was I BORN on fire?  For some reason I think this would’ve been a lot funnier if the firefighter had a Southern accent. But it’s still a decent parody.

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A Book For All You New Parents Out There: How To Make Love To Your Child

By Zach

A woman just called me at work in the hope of publicizing her parenting book. Its title? How to Make Love To Your Child.

So for any of our readers who are with child, or who even have a little bundle of joy toddling around sticking forks in electric sockets as we speak, check out this masterpiece of parental advice. Available in paperback and in Kindle form! I was pondering buying a copy for Anthony, but then I realized that I’d be sternly greeted by police officers at all of Brooke’s future birthday celebrations.

On a side note, this book is 20 years old and self-published, and this woman still expected us to publicize it. But I guess I should expect nothing less from someone who thought it’d be a good idea to give her parenting book an incestuous title.

 

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What The Shit is Going On?

By Zach

It’s a Sunday morning and I’m at work. Usually I can count on these shifts to be slower moving than an NYPD car in an ethnic neighborhood, but today the world is blowing up. White guys are shooting black guys in unclear but suspiciously Zimmermanian circumstances.  Four cops were shot in Brooklyn (though, happily, not killed). Geriatric 60 Minutes commentators whom I’ve never heard of are dying. I’m getting so excited, I’m using the plural for singular subjects! This was not what I bargained for when I drank those seven sessioned ales last night. I don’t even know what a sessioned beer is, but it makes me sound like a Brooklynite beer aficionado and thus I duly persist.

UPDATE: According to Urban Dictionary, a sessioned beer is “low in alcohol and has a balanced flavor of both hops and malt. The purpose being so that it can be drank over a long session of time with out overwhelming the palate or getting the drinker too intoxicated.” Does that make Busch Light a sessioned beer? Busch is about as antithetical to intoxication as the American Pie series is to comedy.

Which brings me to two nights ago, when I found myself sitting in a movie theater watching Sean William Scott poop in a cooler of beer. The sad thing was, that was one of the funnier scenes in American Reunion, the totally necessary (a sarcasm font would be useful here) fourth reprise of said teen sex-comedy franchise. As my girlfriend pointed out afterward, Tara Reid and Chris Klein couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag, and the rest of the cast doesn’t exactly pick up the slack. And while we’re on the subject of Tara Reid, there’s an unintentionally hilarious scene where she accuses her ex-boyfriend of thinking that they had sex (which would make her a slut, naturally) because, well, they woke up naked in a bed together. Reality hits that scene with an ironic haymaker that the writers really should have seen coming.

While we’re on the subject of fidelity/commitment, I have a couple thoughts on all the wedding announcements I’ve been writing lately. The process has been instructive on a number of levels. Here are some of the things I’ve learned, while keeping in mind that I’m a company man through and through:

– There are people in finance who are so far removed from the real world that they’re literally incapable of speaking English. “What do I do? Well, I restructure Delta-one municipal bonds into equity swaps, providing clients with optimal securities optionality while allowing them a market share of ETFs and futures.” I literally had a guy at JP Morgan tell me,  “I don’t advise clients. I work with clients to find the optimal solution.” After receiving an email like that, how can you be mad? Wording like that is worth its weight in Krugerrands, a metaphor made all the more fitting by the abstractness of the industry in question. 

– There are also people who think they’re incredibly interesting (so said the blogger in the post about his life). An example: the couple who made a website for their wedding, complete with nine different pages detailing every aspect of their impending nuptials. This included lengthy biographies of the groom and bride, a page dedicated to the proposal in Grand Central which featured a band and family and friends in hiding, and links to YouTube videos of the proposal. Pretty nauseating, but you’ve got to give them credit for their shameless pursuit of attention.

– Let’s end this post with an empirically true, hopefully harmless stereotype that would seem to fly in the face of all existing background data on their mothers: Jews are really chill about their weddings.