Tears ‘R’ Us: The World’s Biggest Toy Store Didn’t Have to Die


Toys R US To Close 87 Stores

All stores will be empty by the end of June, but until then customers can stand in front of a “selfie banner featuring Geoffrey,” the retailer said in May. Soon after, Brandon and four other senior executives, now deemed nonessential, left the company. Brandon received almost $7 million in compensation in 2017, including a $2.8 million retention bonus paid just before the bankruptcy filing. He’s already started a consulting company. Former employees have started a Facebook page, Dead Giraffe Society. Some rallied outside the offices of Bain, KKR, and Vornado to protest losing their jobs without severance and occupied a soon-to-be-closed Toys “R” Us store in Union, N.J. Twenty miles away, the company began to liquidate its headquarters. Photos of what’s for sale, including a giant Sully from Monsters, Inc. posed next to a pool table, are available online.

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Bloomberg Businessweek

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THE TRUTH-AFFIRMING POWERS OF A GOOD, OLD-FASHIONED NETFLIX BINGE


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For people who need to justify their Netflix binges.

The Netflix Binge works on the theory that there’s nothing wrong with the web that can’t be fixed by what’s right with it. Close out the brain-cell-­bruising Facebook, and skip over to the neural luxury resort that is Netflix. With no mandate to sell ads, and because Netflix’s profit motive craves your love more than your data, the shows aim only to enthrall. Let yourself be enthralled, then, by shows that subdue consumerism—Netflix doesn’t want you bouncing to Amazon mid-binge—instead of amplifying it.

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Virginia Heffernan — Wired

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Why I Married Myself


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Sologamy.

Sasha Cagen, a women’s empowerment coach who helped popularize self-marriage with her book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, held her own ceremony three years ago, when she turned 40. At her wedding, held in a Japanese garden in Buenos Aires with two close friends present, “I vowed to trust myself, to see myself as beautiful, to accept my imperfections and the imperfections of others,” she says. “It helped me to raise the bar on what I would or would not accept in a relationship.” She wore an engagement necklace with two charms, one that says “love” and one that says “Alexandra,” her birth name.

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Abigail Pesta — Cosmopolitan

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Wild Wild Country’s white American provincialism


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The other side of the story.

Yet by framing Rajneeshpuram as a “sex cult” without this historical context, Wild Wild Country elides the fact that plenty of middle-class Indians had the same reaction to the “sex cult” as did citizens of Antelope. Not only that, we also miss out on a crucial irony: that India’s first godless and capitalist guru merely claimed to be a religious teacher for U.S. immigration purposes. Even worse, Wild Wild Countryremoves the capitalist-elitist substrate of the “material spirituality” Rajneesh espoused. Always a smooth operator, Rajneesh tracked his newspaper and magazine coverage, and though his lectures were designed to outrage the Indian masses (in order to ramp up publicity), he often appealed to elite venues such as the Rotary Club and the “cocktail circuit” of Mumbai.

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Noopur Raval & Phalguni Desai — The Baffler

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Bach at the Burger King


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Classical music being used to repel people!

Empty streets, however, are the target audience for this concert. The playlist has been selected to repel sidewalk listeners — specifically, the mid-Market homeless who once congregated outside the restaurant doors that served as a neighborhood hub for the indigent. Outside the BART escalator, an encampment of grocery carts, sleeping bags, and plastic tarmacs had evolved into a sidewalk shantytown attracting throngs of squatters and street denizens. “There used to be a mob that would hang out there,” remarked local resident David Allen, “and now there may be just one or two people.” When I passed the corner, the only sign of life I found was a trembling woman crouched on the pavement, head in hand, as classical harpsichord besieged her ears.

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Theodore Gioia — Los Angeles Review of Books

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No Sympathy for the Devil: ‘The Exorcist’ Director William Friedkin Looks Back


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Those stairs – and steps in general – are a defining metaphor in both The Exorcist and Friedkin’s latest film. When we walked through Georgetown, Friedkin kept pointing out stairways he shot – one in Healy Hall that Jason Miller’s character ascends to ask for the extension, one out front where Burstyn’s character led a student protest, another in a courtyard that led to the Jesuit residence, another outside where two priests discuss obtaining the Roman ritual of exorcism and then two minutes away those famous 75 steps that ended in a pool of blood. In The Devil and Father Amorth, Friedkin explains that the priest used to perform his exorcisms in the Scala Sancta atop a staircase – the Holy Stairs that lead to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate – that can only be climbed on one’s knees.

“It all represented the idea of ascension,” Friedkin says.

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Kory Grow — Rolling Stone

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Learning from Gossip about Free Speech


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Revelations about Facebook are the latest manifestation of dysfunction. Not only is Facebook lax about regulating the speech that takes place on its gargantuan platform, but the very nature of the platform is the result of an unregulated economic market. If Facebook is being used successfully to steal elections, spread false news, and infringe upon civil liberties, then it is undermining the very fabric of democracy.

Ironically, gossip can help to address some of these problems. You might think that gossip is the problem, if by that word we mean self-serving and often fallacious talk about others. But that’s not how gossip works in small-scale societies around the world.

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David Sloan Wilson — The Evolution Institute

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