I wrote Literary Brooklyn. It's inexpensive and fun.
I've written for New York magazine, the New York Review of Books, Grantland, the London Review of Books, the New York Times, the New Republic, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Boston Globe, n+1, the B&N Review, and other publications.
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The problem with Rachel Maddow’s theory about the Christie scandal is that it’s too good.
Maddow’s theory, in brief: When the Christie camp decided to stick it to Fort Lee, they weren’t targeting the mayor of Fort Lee; they were targeting the state senate majority leader, who represents Fort Lee, because she had been blocking Christie’s nominees to the state supreme court. The timing makes sense, now that we know Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, wrote “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” weeks before the lane closures — and 12 hours after Christie lit into the state senator, Loretta Weinberg, in a press conference.
I know next to nothing about New jersey politics, but what strikes me as implausible here is that this scandal has been going on for four months, and no one thought of this? That would represent a real lapse of imagination on the part of those who are knowledgeable about New Jersey politics. I realize we didn’t know the timing of Bridget Kelly’s email till Wednesday morning. But imagine you were just brainstorming, as a local reporter/politician/observer, “Why would Christie screw over Fort Lee?” Christie’s highly publicized battle with Fort Lee’s state senator does not occur to you?
The state senate majority leader is a powerful person. And she and the governor were in open warfare. The mayor of Fort Lee is… sort of not a powerful person, as Christie tried delicately to explain at the press conference.
This makes me think that someone local is going to explain why Maddow’s theory is flawed.
If you live in New York State and are thinking of getting “Obamacare,” you might be interested: healthcare.gov is actually irrelevant for you because all that site does for NY residents is redirect them to the state’s own online exchange, which works really, really well (though it too had hiccups, but only at the very beginning). I’ve gotten far enough through the application process that I can see my options and their prices. This did not take long at all and the site saves whatever data you enter so that you can exit and return with no trouble.
There are 61 plans available to me, from nine providers. Most of those plans are cheaper than my current plan, which is an Oxford plan I obtained through Mediabistro. (My current one was not the cheapest available plan, but instead a middle-grade combo that had halfway decent benefits.) Every single one of the new plans is a dramatically better value than my Oxford plan because the benefits are far better. That’s the big takeaway.
However, one thing I wanted to point out is that precisely zero of the 61 plans has ANY coverage for out-of-network care. This is kind of a big deal, because some better doctors do not go through the arduous process of joining insurance networks because the rates the insurers pay to doctors are pretty low for patients on the network, especially when compared to the price of these doctors’ education.
I would say that I followed the Obamacare debate very closely, relative to the average news consumer, and I never knew that out-of-network (OON) care would not be covered (whether in NY State or anywhere else—I’m not sure what it’s like in other states). It makes sense that OON care would not be anyone’s #1 policy priority because the point of Obamacare is to cover people so they can get care, no matter their pre-existing health conditions, and not go broke. AGAIN, THIS IS THE BIGGER DEAL HERE. The fact that I can’t get coverage for any doctor I want is, relatively speaking, a first-world problem.
But the lack of OON coverage suggests to me that we could be headed toward a system similar—but arguably worse—to the one that I gather is taking shape in Canada. There they have single-payer health care like the rest of the developed world and no visible costs to the consumer (obviously they do pay for care, through taxation), which is great. But rich people who don’t like waiting for appointments and who want the top doctors, I have heard, are paying to opt out of free health care into what you might call boutique doctors’ offices. It’s like taking the taxi when the subway will do. (I have limited info on this, but this is my understanding, and I believe something similar is happening in England.) That two-tier system is roughly 8 million times better, in my view, than the current arrangement in the U.S., where on the bottom tier are some 30 million not-rich people who are walking around on the precipice of going bankrupt or slowly dying because they have no insurance.
So in other words, my first read on my Obamacare experience is: We can all get health insurance, for a semi-reasonable price. This is the biggest blow against inequality in decades and I believe Obama will go down in history as an incredibly important president for this reason alone. But I would note that if enough good doctors opt out of networks, it remains to be seen exactly what level of care we’re going to get.
well… well first off, i’d say, seek professional help immediately. because i am wildly unqualified to answer your question with anything but experience. and first off, my experience says, if you are in such a deep and dark place where you say things like this to total strangers on the internet, you need to be in contact with someone that can help you start to heal.
second, i’d say… you’re wrong. i’d say the things any of us don’t know, especially about tomorrow, could blanket every grain of sand on every beach of the world with bullshit. And to simply assume you are done tomorrow because you are done today is a mistake. a factual mistake, an error, a critical miscalculation.
i’d say, read Tad Friend’s piece JUMPERS in which he seeks and finds and talks to people that jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge — and lived. And they all say the same variations this: “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”
And know that this piece has kept me in my seat on more than a couple dark nights.
And i’d say — i’d say i felt that way before too, and i was wrong.
And then i’d tell you something i don’t even think my wife knows. this happend years before we met — shit, more than a decade — and it’s not the first time i came close to suicide was on a thanksgiving night. i’d eaten well and then as the house shut down i went into the bathroom, drew a bath as hot as i could manage to stand, and climbed into the tub with a razor blade.
As i started to cut, as the corner touched my skin and that jolt of pain fired into my head, i stopped and thought — y’know, last chance. Are you SURE?
And i was tired. I sounded like you, that i knew there’d be ups again and downs but i was just so fucking TIRED i couldn’t stand the thought of having to get there. I felt this… this never-ending crush of days that were grey and tepid but for some reason i was supposed to greet each one with a smile. the constant pressure of having to keep my shit in all the time was just exhausting.
I wondered, then — well, is there anything you’re curious about. Anything you want to see play out. And i thought of a comic i was reading and i’d not figured out the end of the current storyline. And i realized I had curiosity. And that was the hook i’d hang my hat on. that by wanting to see how something played out I wasn’t really ready. That little sprout of a thing poking up through all that black earth kept me around a little longer.
I realized then that it had been so long since i’d laughed. I was numbed out and shut down and just… i missed laughing. maybe if i laughed a little i could get moving again. so i’d wait for my comic to conclude, try to find a few laughs, and then reevaluate.
So I’m in the bathtub and i got this real sharp-ass razor, right? And i look down and there’s all my bits floating in the water like they do and i thought okay, let’s get funny and i got to work.
I shaved off exactly half my pubic hair vertically. The end result was a ‘fro of pubes that looked like a Chia Pet that only half-worked. I started to laugh as I did it. And every time i’d piss, looking down made me laugh.
Because JESUS what a nightmare.
Shortly thereafter I got very heavily into Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. Way less chafing and way more funny.
jesus. i was still in high school at the time. dig if you will a picture of the chubby weirdo that was always giggling at his dick in the bathroom. that was me.
And then I guess I’d tell you about Dave, who did the same thing as me a few years later, only DIDN’T have my hilarious Chia Dick strategy in mind and got the razor in and up. And as he started to bleed out “Brown Eyed Girl” came on the radio and he realized he’d never get to hear that again so, in a bloody comedy of errors — I swear to god this is true — he got out of the tub, tried to get dressed the best he could, went downstairs calling for help only to find his family gone, went out to his car, and drove to doug’s house only to find doug not home and so, then, finally, he blacked out from blood loss sitting there in his car, playing a van morrison CD on repeat, until, by luck, Doug’s mom came home and found him.
Fucking Van Morrison, y’know?
A song, a comic, something dumb, something small. From that seed can come everything else, I swear to god.
I guess last I’d say… I’d say that, look — if you reached out to me for an answer, than I have to reach back out to you and insist you hear it. Because it means, what, you know me? My work? You read my stuff and thought, well, fuck, if anyone would know why I shouldn’t end my life, if anyone alive is QUALIFIED TO SAVE ME it’s the guy that had britney spears punch a bear? okay — okay, then, so as THAT GUY I’m saying: Get help. Now, today, tonight, whenever — get to a phone and find a doctor that can try to help you heal, that can try to recolorize your world again, that can help you start caring again. All you need is that one tiny thing, that speck, that little grain of sand. the World Series, AVENGERS 2, Tina Fey’s new show, the first issue of PRETTY DEADLY, some slice of the world you’ve never seen, some drink you love, who the fuck will love your dog like you do if you’re gone, what if jabrams KILLS it on the new STAR WARS, the hell are you doing for Halloween, you ever feed a dolphin with your bare hand? because i have and I am fucking telling you IT IS A THING TO EXPERIENCE and oh god WHAT FUCKING FONT WILL STARBUCKS USE ON THE CHRISTMAS DRINK SLEEVES THIS YEAR — i don’t care what or how dumb but i promise you somewhere in your life is that one fleck of dust that can help start you on the road back. That’s all it takes. One fucking mote, drifting through your head.
And because you asked me I am answering you because i know, motherfucker, i know, i know, i know the hole you are fucking in because I was there myself and if you look hard you can still see my writing on those walls and if you stare long enough i swear to god it’s pointing to up