I just wanted to let you know how disappointed I am with your website header.
It looks like a 6 year old created it with Microsoft Paint. I was excited to visit your site, (I’m on Civil’s newsletter list, and your site sounded pretty awesome). But it’s hard to put much stock in a website that has this horrible poorly done header. (The rest of the site looks thoughtfully designed). It may have been on purpose, like when movies are so dumb they’re funny. But it’s not even that. It’s just really, really bad.
So bad, it prompted me to send you an email!
Are you seriously trying to look reputable? Because that website header is NOT encouraging me to take you seriously at all.
Just some visitor feedback.
Thanks so much for writing in. We’re very interested in reader response to our work. Our site was designed by two comics artists, Vanessa Davis and Trevor Alixopulos; in giving these talented artists free rein, we sought to communicate the egalitarian and friendly vibe of the comics and zine world in general, because that’s what Popula is about.
To this question: “Are you seriously trying to look reputable? Because that website header is NOT encouraging me to take you seriously at all.”
The answer is an emphatic no. We are trying to get away entirely from questions of reputability and seriousness, and refocus on what is truthful, and human.
Thank you again, so much, for writing in.
I’m a native New Yorker who’s been living in Toronto going on 4 years, and I have definitely noticed Toronto’s conservative streak. But I don’t think it’s as contemptible or ubiquitous as Navneet Alang seems to think (“Every Car is the Quiet Car”, August 7.)
Torontonians desire for an undisturbed commute is laudable. New York City’s subway system is, quite frankly, overrun with buskers. When I was a younger transit rider, I used to love it: a trio of djembe players; agile youths swinging around the hand rails; I even once saw a magician vanish a bird on the A train! But what was once a charming form of free (I confess I rarely tipped) mid-transit entertainment has become a bit of a nuisance. When someone enters the train shouting “Show Time!”, I can’t help but turn up my ipod and cower away, out of fear of getting kicked in the face by an unsolicited breakdancer. Too much of a good thing turned me into a curmudgeon.
Toronto’s lack of busking (there are permits, as in NYC, but here it’s actually enforced) was nice at first, but left me wanting some form of ad hoc entertainment. And I don’t think I’m alone. Witness the ‘Despacito Guys’. Earlier this summer, there was a subway-wide phenomenon: two guys, sharing a single accordion, would show up on the subway and play what must be the only song they know: Despacito. And it was a blast! Folks on the subway whipped out their phones to film this rare sight, and the accordionists raked in the dough (I saw a woman throw a 10 dollar bill into his hat, a sum unheard of in NYC). Alas, it was snuffed out as quickly as it came: the cops cracked down and ticketed these veritable subway heroes.
Despacito is no more, but the excitement was palpable, and, I think, belies a certain, if incremental, desire for a progressive and modern city. The resistance to reforms is real, but mostly arises from a mismatch in Toronto’s municipal politics: suburban elected officials from the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) have an inordinate opportunity to voice their opinions, which are always anti-bike, pro-car, and generally anti-urban. And sure, the buffoon Doug Ford was elected premier, but the blame for that rests squarely on the rest of Ontario: Toronto’s downtown core overwhelming opted to elect the left-of-center NDP, who ran on a platform of lowering the cost of utilities and housing, among other things. What I see in Toronto, then, is a struggle between the traditional and trenchant conservatives of the burbs and the ascendant, urbanite, and forward-looking downtown core. This is a struggle for the soul of Toronto the Good.
— Matt Watton (@Brotinus)
[excerpts from a note written to us by contributing writer, Claire Berlinski.]
I’m so glad it’s going well so far: I love it, actually, and I’m optimistic about it. I love the design (I really like the password-free log-in that takes you right back where you were — why can’t anyone else figure that out)? Giovani Tiso’s article about machine translation riveted me. (It would, obviously.) But above all, I want this to work — and I think it will — because this is now looking like exactly the publication I’ve been wishing existed for years. You get it! There’s a whole world out there! New York is not the entire universe, and the rest of the planet is actually … interesting! Neither a terrifying hellhole nor a series of tips about where to take the best selfies for your Instagram feed, but a great big fascinating world […]
I can’t begin to count the number of editors who’ve rejected pitches for what I knew were great stories on the grounds, basically, that Americans won’t click on the link if it sounds like it might be about something foreign. Two exceptions: luxury hotel reviews for Travel & Leisure, and terrorist attacks. However, terrorist attacks are only worth money if they happen in Paris. They’re worthless everywhere else, except maybe London or Berlin. (I wrote about this phenomenon here. You’re busy, obviously, but if you follow the links, you’ll get a sense of how many terrorist attacks editors didn’t think newsworthy. I ended up writing about them for Ricochet because they were the only outlet that would let me write whatever I wanted, but no mainstream publication was interested in a word of it.) So I kind of found myself in the weird position of rooting for the terrorists in Paris, because the only stories I could sell from here were “Terrorists attack! Yet again!” — and you know, I need to pay my rent. But sadly, terrorism in Paris is in fact so rare as to be almost statistically insignificant… so all the stuff I know about Paris that’s actually interesting is sitting unpublished on my computer.
Well, to be fair, there’s another perennial Paris favorite you can always sell: “Why French women don’t get fat.” But the answer is, “They eat less,” and if you add even one more word to that sentence, you’re totally bullshitting your readers. Frankly, there are some things I won’t do for any amount of money, and selling that story so it can do its millionth round incarnation among a credulous American public is even lower, journalistically speaking, than secretly praying for terrorists to blow up the Eiffel Tower.
Obviously, I’d like to write about many things, not just terrorism, but editors now genuinely believe that no one wants stories from abroad, period — and sadly, there is much evidence that they’re right, and sadly, the effects of our isolation are all too obvious, and you know this all, which is why you started Popula, which is incredibly heartening and may God bless you and Popula and protect it always.
Thanks so much, and keep up the great work, and please make this thing a huge success, because I want many chances to write about things that actually interest me; I want to retire as a crypto-billionaire; and I want to say “I told you so, you fucking fools” to every editor who’s ever told me, “Claire, no one’s interested in Turkey.” Or India, or Morocco, or Paris. Or anything beyond the shores of America—except Megan Markle. Unless it’s a terrorist attack in a Western capital.
[In response to our entreaties to Claire to allow us to publish the above, some days later.]
Oh, God, do people have enough sense of irony left these days that I won’t forever be known as the journalist who was rooting for the terrorists?
Ah well, fuck it: The only way irony will ever come back is if we refuse to give in and just say whatever the fuck we please. So sure.