Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder, dead at 91

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, died Wednesday at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, surrounded by loved ones, the magazine said in a statement.

He was 91. He died of from natural causes, the statement read. 

With a bon vivant philosophy, urbane sophistication and sheer marketing brilliance, Hefner was an icon for the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the man-about-town embodiment of the lifestyle he promoted with gusto and a sly wink to readers.

Asked by the New York Times in 1992 of what he was proudest, Hefner responded: “That I changed attitudes toward sex. That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction.”

When he turned 85, he cheerfully observed, “You’re as young as the girl you feel.”

After a round of celebrity cheating by Tiger Woods and Jesse James was exposed, Hefner summed up his own attitude: “I had a lot of girlfriends, but it’s not the same as cheating. I don’t cheat. I am very open about what I do. … I think that when you are in a relationship, you should be honest. The real immorality of infidelity is the lying.”

The man known to millions simply as “Hef” was born April 9, 1926, in Chicago, the elder of two sons.

His parents were strict Methodists and Hefner went to Chicago schools before joining the Army, attending the Chicago Art Institute and graduating from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a degree in psychology.

“Part of the reason that I am who I am is my Puritan roots run deep,” he told the Associated Press in 2011. “My folks are Puritan. My folks are prohibitionists. There was no drinking in my home. No discussion of sex. And I think I saw the hurtful and hypocritical side of that from very early on. “

After working first as a copywriter for “Esquire” – where he reportedly left because he didn’t get a $5 raise – Hefner decided to start his own publication and he raised $8,000 from 45 investors to launch “Playboy” in December 1953. (He had originally planned to call it “Stag Night,” but was forced to change the name to avoid trademark infringement.)

It was produced in his kitchen and carried no date because he wasn’t sure there would be a second issue.

But with the trademark intuition and shrewdness that seemed to always ensure his success, Hefner had acquired a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe for the centerfold, taken before the start of her film career.

The magazine sold 50,000 copies, making it an immediate success. (Hefner later bought the crypt next to Monroe’s in a Los Angeles cemetery.)

An empire was launched, with Hefner – who divorced first wife Mildred Williams in 1959 – as its charismatic, cosmopolitan head.

Often pictured in pajamas – or a silk smoking jacket – and smoking a pipe, Hefner personally promoted the Playboy philosophy as the magazine became an amalgam of nude photographs of gorgeous women and intellectual writing. (“I just read Playboy for the articles,” was a standard, if joking, line at the time.)

“If you had to sum up the idea of Playboy, it is anti-Puritanism,” he was quoted as saying as the country’s mood became more hedonistic.

“Not just in regard to sex but the whole range of play and pleasure.”

In addition to the magazine, there were Playboy clubs, with “bunny” waitresses, two short-lived television series and a host of other Playboy Enterprises projects. In 2011 a new television show based on the Playboy Club was launched.

In 1975, Hefner moved to Los Angeles and in 1985, he suffered a minor stroke.

In 1989, he married longtime girlfriend Kimberly Conrad and for a while became a family man with two young sons before the couple separated in 1998.

“My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom,” Cooper Hefner, Hefner’s son and chief creative officer at Playboy Enterprises, said in a statement.

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How did Tesla make some of its cars travel further during Hurricane Irma?

The electric-car giant gave customers a lifeline by remotely boosting their vehicles battery capacity. But this act of kindness also highlighted that it had been selling identical cars at different prices

Tesla drivers who fled Hurricane Irma last weekend received an unexpected lesson in modern consumer economics along the way. As they sat on choked highways, some of the electric-car giants more keenly priced models suddenly gained an extra 30 or so miles in range thanks to a silent free upgrade.

The move, confirmed by Tesla, followed the request of one Florida driver for a limit on his cars battery to be lifted. Teslas cheaper models, introduced last year, have the same 75KwH battery as its more costly cars, but software limits it to 80% of range. Owners can otherwise buy an upgrade for several thousands of dollars. And because Teslas software updates are online, the company can make the changes with the flick of a virtual switch.

It is, points out economist Alex Tabarrok, an example of price discrimination in this case, the art of selling superficially worse versions of the same or similar product for less. And it is nothing new. The only thing that has changed is that companies can now change the offering during the life cycle of the product, says Dr Georg Tacke, a consumer pricing expert and the chief executive of global consultancy Simon Kucher. As more software gets into our hardware, the more we are going to see this.

In Damaged Goods, a paper on the subject published by MIT in 1996, economists Raymond Deneckere and Preston McAfee showed how limiting products to make them cheaper can even cost a company more in the short term. In 1990, IBM launched LaserPrinter E, a cheaper version of its LaserPrinter. The only difference? A chip modification that slowed the printing speed to five rather than 10 pages per minute.

But, as Tacke explains, manufacturing two genuinely different versions of a product costs a lot more. The challenge is to predict the willingness to pay of customers while making them feel as if they have benefited from value or better features. If you have one product and the price is too high, people dont buy it. But if its too low, you dont exploit some customers willingness to pay, he says. So you differentiate and, yes, that means damaging the product in some way.

This is why there is now also a market for remapping modern cars: tweaking their software to unleash hidden performance like a video game cheat without touching the engines. Mobile phone and household appliance makers use similar marketing ploys to differentiate products and sell more overall.

But should we feel cheated by this sleight of hand? Get used to it, says Tacke. The key to pulling it off, he adds, is to manage expectations and to do the research to get the prices right. Tesla customers driving the cheaper cars knew what the payoff was. And the company had the last laugh; it no longer offers cheaper cars with the damaged battery, because most people bought the upgrade anyway.

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Rihanna’s diverse new makeup line has the beauty community scrambling to catch up

Less than one week has passed since Rihanna released her new makeup line, Fenty Beauty, sending beauty companies scrambling to market diversity and add deeper shade ranges to some collections.

Fenty Beauty launched online and in Sephora stores Thursday at midnight with a total of 40 shades of foundation from very pale white and pink foundation shades to several shades of dark brown and everything in between. Rihanna’s brand, made available worldwide to 17 nations, emphasized inclusivity of all skin-tones, ethnicities, and races. Fenty Beauty has the entire makeup community buzzing, and some brands are now trying to cater to consumers with darker skin tones and develop more products that are suited to different skin tones.

Foundation for all. 40 shades. What's yours? #PROFILTR #FENTYBEAUTY

A post shared by FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA (@fentybeauty) on

While some other makeup lines already had diverse shade ranges, Fenty Beauty seemed to spark a conversation about makeup inclusivity. It also created a chain reaction of other brands highlighting diversity within their own product lines, especially after rumors started circulating online that darker shades of Fenty had sold out in stores and online.

As of publication time, all but one of Fenty’s darker foundation shades were available on its website.

On the same day, Kylie Cosmetics tweeted a photo of a new “brown sugar matte” lipstick on Justine Skye, Kylie’s darker-skinned friend. Many people on Twitter dragged Kylie’s beauty line for the timing of posting this photo and releasing this new product for women with darker skin shortly following Rihanna’s release. The tweet has since been deleted.

Kim Kardashian’s KKW Beauty also tweeted a photo of a dark shade of powder contour and highlight on the same day, which received a lot of online backlash for the same reasons.

Since Fenty Beauty’s Friday debut, some other makeup brands, such as Estee Lauder, Cover FX, L’Oreal, Lancome and Hourglouss, have been marketing a wide shade range of products. Cover Fx advertised its 40 shades of foundation the same day Fenty Beauty was released. On Tuesday, L’Oreal announced its “true match” foundation was extended to 29 shades to celebrate diversity.

Despite the fact that several makeup brands with broad shade ranges are already on the market and many are sold at Sephora, Pop Sugar reports that Sephora employees are saying they are seeing more customers of color in the stores than ever seen before.

Rihanna is not only receiving praise for launching such a wide array of foundation shades, but also for being outspoken about the importance of creating an inclusive makeup brand. At her makeup brand launch party, Rihanna said to Refinery 29’s Cat Quinn, “I like to challenge myself and do things that are more difficult… There needs to be something for a dark-skinned girl, there needs to be something for a really pale girl, there needs to be something for someone in between. There’s so many different shades– there’s red undertones, green undertones, blue undertones, pink undertones, there’s yellow. You want people to appreciate the product and not feel like it only looks good ‘on her.'”

Whether or not it was RiRi who created this wave is unclear, but since her 40 shades of Fenty were released, diversity and inclusion have been major topics in the makeup community.

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John Legend: Trump is an embarrassment to the country

The music star talks about everyday racism in the US, how his wife Chrissy Teigen makes him bolder and why La La Land shouldnt be written off as a white film about jazz

On the morning of our interview, John Legend was hitting out at the president of the United States on Twitter again.

You cant be impeached if you resign first, he wrote in response to Donald Trumps latest social media missive. Just a thought.

I feel like its not super controversial, he explains that afternoon. Ithink Trump is an embarrassment to the country. And his approval rating isterrible.

Legends three-legged, rescued French bulldog, Penny, is scampering through the halls of his Los Angeles home like an asthmatic pinball, and he pauses for her to pass underfoot as he brings us two glasses of ros. He is wearing a white T-shirt and jeans and his mood is the human equivalent of the prayer-hands emoji. That seems to be his default. Its difficult to picture Legend angry or anything other than the absolute essence of calm. He doles out thoughtfully articulated thesis statements in a rhythmic murmur, perhaps best described as a mix of pillow talk and a TED talk.

Legend, 38, released his sixth album, Darkness and Light, last December, which earned praise from the Guardian for its musical weirdness and lyrical bleakness. Now he is preparing for an arena tour of Britain this autumn, where he will be joined by his 16-month-old daughter, Luna, who does not much appreciate this whole interview thing.

Da-ad! she calls from upstairs, her voice echoing into the dining room. Luna! Legend yells back, cutting himself off mid-sentence. She knows Im talking, he says.

Luna pads downstairs and joins Legend at the piano. The shelves behind him are covered in awards, including 10 Grammys and an Oscar; her onesie is covered in tiny pink owls. He runs his hands over the keys as she smashes them intermittently, pausing for me to clap, then staring back at her dad for approval. They have clearly done this before. Lunas giant brown eyes and halo of curls make frequent appearances in the feeds of Legends 7.1 million Instagram followers, as does his wife, Chrissy Teigen, a model, feminist firebrand and celebrity in her own right. (Actually, she has more than 14 million followers, but whos counting?)

Together, the two frequently peel back the curtain on their lives, from whatever movie they are watching during a night in to pointed takedowns of the US president.

Well, [Trumps] an entertainer, too, in a New York way, says Legend. When he is criticising something, he is usually projecting. So, he calls people liars because he is a liar. He talks about the entertainment business because he rose through the entertainment business. He talks about people being corrupt, because he is corrupt. He talks about people being violent because he encourages violence. So, hes usually projecting when he criticises someone. Legend and his wife are active in the resistance against Trump, ignoring fans on social media who tell them to stay in your lane.

Artists, I think, by constitution and disposition, are just more liberal than the average population. They tend to want progress and change, he says, and they also tend to have worlds that are more diverse maybe than the average person.

Time for a zoo visit! #LunasFirstTour

A post shared by John Legend (@johnlegend) on

The couple share a lot on social media, which is part 360 marketing strategy, part just their real life.

I think it would be harder if we were trying to put up some facade that wasnt real, but since who we are on social media is really natural and really a reflection of who we are in our private life in a lot of ways, I think it feels very unforced for us, he says. It feels like a natural conversation. When I talk about politics on Twitter, when I Instagram my daughter, these are just the things Im thinking about and the things I care about.

Legend and Teigen give a lot to their fans through social media, but it is also a way of controlling images of themselves. Ithink it devalues paparazzi photos when you control your own narrative, he says. I think we have enough wisdom to know when its the right time to share and when it isnt. Occasionally, well make a mistake but, generally speaking, Im happy with what weve chosen to share, and I think its generally better than the alternative of going through publicists and tabloids.

As a result, the line between Legend and Teigens private and public lives has become blurred as even the tiniest reveals on Snapchat and Instagram Legend taking off Teigens jewellery after the Grammys, Teigen posting pictures of her stretchmarks generate headlines. At this point, it is what their fans have come to expect.

It doesnt feel like its foreign to me to write a love song, Legend says. Itdoesnt feel like its foreign to me to express how I feel politically.

With his wife Chrissy Teigen. Photograph: David Livingston/Getty Images

Certainly he is open about the psychological toll of social media: Women get it much worse, he says. Because, anything you say, your looks are going to get evaluated no matter what, your right to speak is being questioned no matter what. I think the world in general is harder on women that choose to speak their mind about anything. I see it with Chrissy all the time. Its awful, but shes good at handling it. Plainly, he adores her. The couple, who married in Italy in 2013, have been together for nearly a decade, with the brief exception of one almost-breakup. I was really stressed and busy, he says. I was just like: Id just be happier single right now, and she was like: No. They were dating again less than half an hour later. She pushes me to be funnier, he says, not because shes trying to, I think its just being around her. And to be bolder.

If anything about his public perception really bothers him, its probably the love-song thing; Legend is deeply inspired by Marvin Gaye and, like his idol, has come to be attached to calling-card hits, which perhaps makehisworkseem one-dimensional.

People kind of expect a show or an album to be full of All of Mes and Ordinary Peoples, he says, referencing his biggest hits to date, But, if you come and see the show, you know its much more dynamic than that.

Legend has been making major-label records for almost 15 years now, starting with Get Lifted in 2003. Born John Stephens to a seamstress and factory worker in Ohio, Legend grew up close to the Pentecostal church. He started playing piano at age four, and began performing in services not long after. There was a brief crossover into theatre and he sang in an a cappella group at the University of Pennsylvania, where he went to college. Picture it, he says with a laugh.

Entering public high school at age 12 as a shy, previously homeschooled child meant it took Legend a while to blossom into a place where he was comfortable socially. He graduated high school two years early at age 16, and was prom king and student body president. After university, he kept singing, but his stellar grades led to a consulting job. That is, until his roommate introduced him to his producer cousin: Kanye West.

West wasnt a superstar yet this was right before he released his debut album, The College Dropout but he quickly ascended to notoriety and Legend became the first artist to sign tohis label, Good Music.

His fame was getting to the point where everybody was looking for who the next guy out of his camp was going to be, says Legend. And it was me!

Kanye Wests 2003 performance at the Canal Room, pictured with John Legend, Mos Def, Consequence and Damon Dash among others. Photograph: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Teigen entered the picture in 2007, when a music video director paired them on a shoot for Legends Stereo. He showed Legend a photo of this Billabong model and said he thought they might hit it off. The resulting product is a staged look at the couples first day meeting and falling in love.

It was this one-on-one video of just me and a girl, and shes my love interest in the video, Legend says, with a far-off smile. We spent the whole day dancing together, grinding together, he continues, drifting off for a moment. And,uh, we made a music video.

Fast-forward to 2017, where they have become megastars as individuals and as a couple. Legend and Teigen have a massive amount of agency in their careers, although that doesnt mean there arent compromises. As a mainstream star, Legend is well aware that a careful balance between art and commerce is crucial to his continued success. A lot of artists are rather precious when discussing this aspect of songwriting. Legend is refreshinglyfrank.

Your main work is hopefully honest and true, and something that you also believe in artistically, but you also have to sell it, he says. Everybodys level of success at managing that balance is kind of what defines you as an artist.

Darkness and Light is a more meditative spin on his comfort-food soul. It is easy listening that contemplates the paradoxes of a public identity, laced with political edge. This is my most honest and soulful work, says Legend. It feels like the most me that Ive ever been.

Performing at the 2017 Essence Festival, New Orleans. Photograph: Invision/AP/Amy Harris

One song from the album, Penthouse Floor, presents itself as a jam about finding the nights party, but then reveals itself as an examination of power and the lack of diversity in influential spaces. It makes you want to dance, while unflinchingly asking who gets a seat at the table. That said, Legend finds the representation debate to be overrated: There have been plenty of examples of black success before, he says and he makes a nuanced argument for why La La Land (in which he starred) should not be written off as a white film about jazz.

A lot of people said: Youre making a jazz film, how can you have a mostly white cast? he says. That wasnt what the film was supposed to be about. It was a movie about two artists who were in love, two artists who were trying to figure out their art and their romance at the same time. Somebody else can make another jazz film that highlights other characters, people of colour, and the black people who invented jazz. (And, by the way, he was thrilled that Moonlight won the Oscar.)

Legend doesnt see a stark separation between art and artist, but he does make specific choices about where and how to express his beliefs. Some of it Im more comfortable putting on Twitter than I am putting it in a song, he says. You know, tweeting about mass incarceration policy, that medium is different than a songwriting medium, and there are things Ill say in a tweet or in a speech that I wont say in a song.

Mass incarceration and education are Legends two major initiatives and he has two organisations that focus on reform in both areas, contributing research, raising awareness and getting involved in political races where necessary. It is fundamental to the way he sees the world. For peoples lives to really change, I think systems have to change, he says.

The rise of Trump has ushered in gruesome displays of racism in US culture, most recently at the violent rally in Charlottesville by neo-Nazis and the KKK. We know that thats evil, Legend says of the events, But its also evil that having a white-sounding name versus a black-sounding name will get you 50% more callbacks for your interviews. Its not as violent, its not as physically devastating, but it affects black people every single day.

The overarching message of love in Legends music seems inextricably linked to his ethical compassion. Cornel West said that love in the public sense is justice, he says. So, Ithink about what it means to love your neighbour, to love the people across town. To him, love in practice means caring about justice and equality. This takes on a far heavier meaning given Legends presence as a prominent black man. He feels urgency in using his platform not only to speak out but to change systems. For any black person, our story has been so much about slavery and so much about dealing with Jim Crow, and we try not to think of ourselves and our people as a problem all of the time, or as someone in struggle all of the time. But we are struggling our people in general are struggling.

His voice is a little tighter now. We are sitting in his sprawling mansion, discussing his impossibly charmed life and the injustices he not only fights, but still feels in a very real way.

I know that Im doing well and Im very fortunate, but I have family members that have been locked up. I have people who are very close to me who have been in prison for years, so I never forget who I am and where I come from, he says, pausing before this next thought. Maybe it is more of a burden being black. Even if you succeed, you still have that memory and connection to struggle, but because Im in a position of privilege now, Ive chosen to make sure that Im not the only one who succeeds.

John Legends UK tour starts on 8September

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12 Favorite Food Items That Immediately Turn Into Pumpkin Spice Once Fall Starts

Once autumn makes its grand entrance, I’m as basic as they come. Over-sized sweaters, skinny jeans, knee-high boots, apple picking, hayrides — you name it, and I’m probably all about it. I generally try my hardest to celebrate seasons as the calendar entails, but when it comes to autumn, I am than willing to welcome the cool air and cozy vibes early, which (bonus!) means indulging in all the pumpkin spice foods prior to the official first day of fall on Sept. 21.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure once PSLs went viral, the rest of the food industry pretty much just followed suit. It’s only been over the course of the past few years that food labels — from cereal brands to ice cream to yogurt containers — started marketing these seasonal goods, dressing their items in shades of orange for the duration of fall. Some say it’s gotten a little out of hand (maybe), but I say the more the merrier.

Fall just wouldn’t be fall without a little (or a lot of) pumpkin in your pantry, and these must-have favorite food items are just some of the many spiced indulgences to invest in this season.

1. Bread

Pepperidge Farm

Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Swirl Thick Sliced Bread, $7, Shop Food

Pair a steaming PSL with Pepperidge Farm’s limited-edition pumpkin spice bread for a #ToastTuesday you’re bound to repeat all season long.

A warm slice tastes heavenly with a spread of Fourth and Heart’s Vanilla Bean Ghee butter, but if you’re really feeling fancy, whip up a serving or two of thick, fall-inspired French toast.

2. Pop Tarts


Kellog’s Pop-Tarts Frosted Pumpkin Pie Pastries, see store for price, Target

As if we needed another reason to love Pop-Tarts, Kellog’s is filling its toaster pastries with all the pumpkin pie goodness this season.

Personally, I like mine microwaved for 30 seconds with a cup of tea for dessert, but it would make for an equally delicious on-the-go breakfast cold.

3. Cereal

General Mills

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, see store for price, Target

This season, don’t just sip your pumpkin spice — chew it.

Cheerios isn’t the only cereal brand hopping on the pumpkin trend this season, though. Be on the lookout for orange boxes of Puffins, Life, Mini Wheats, and Special K, too.

4. Ice Cream


Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato, $4, Walmart 

This pint of gelato intrigued me from the get-go because, not only is it mmm-mmm-good, it also stays relatively soft-serve when kept in the freezer.

Add a scoop to a warm slice of pie (apple, perhaps?), or grab a spoon and eat it solo.

5. Oatmeal


Pumpkin Spice Quaker Instant Oatmeal, see store for price, Target

I normally vouch for homemade oatmeal (pumpkin purée in oats is amazing), but if you’re short on time, these quick-bake packets from Quaker hit the spot.

6. Coffee

Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Ground Coffee, $7, Target

Some people prefer Starbuck’s PSLs; others run on Dunkin. Though I love both, I’m always down for a DD home-brewed pot, especially when pumpkin spice is in the mix.

7. Tea

Harney & Sons

Harney & Sons Pumpkin Spice, $6, iHerb

A friend of mine gifted me a box of Harney & Sons pumpkin spice tea a few years back, and I’ve never forgotten its taste or presentation.

This gorgeous tin of teabags fits comfortably in an office desk drawer and brings with it a festive aesthetic to any kitchen counter. Sip throughout breakfast, break time, lunch, or dessert. The smell alone is sure to please your senses.

8. Candy


M&Ms White Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Candy, $9, Amazon

There’s an M&M flavor for every occasion, and while I tend to favor the mint variety myself, pumpkin spice flavoring doused in chocolate coating sounds pretty damn delish to me.

9. Pancake Mix

Birch Benders

Birch Benders Pumpkin Pancakes, see store for price, Target

Pumpkin anything for breakfast is more than OK with me, but it’s especially amazing in the form of pancakes and waffles.

This pre-made powder mix from Birch and Benders is essential for cozy fall Saturdays when all you want to do is curl up in front of the TV with a short stack.

10. Granola

Purely Elizabeth

Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Cinnamon Ancient Grain Granola, $6, Jet

Purely Elizabeth is at it again, this time with a cinnamon pumpkin flavor your tastebuds will water for.

Keep this bag close for easy grazing throughout the day, or sprinkle a few chunks over oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream.

11. Cookies

Pepperidge Farm

Pepperidge Farm Milano Pumpkin Spice Cookies, $3, Walmart

Milano cookies have been one of my favorites for . Combine the sandwich cookie’s fudge middle with fall’s most favorited spice and you’ve got yourself a real winner.

I dare you not to finish this whole bag in one day.

12. Donuts


Katz Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Donuts, $39, Amazon

Gluten-free friends, this one’s for you. You don’t have to completely miss out on DD’s pumpkin donuts with Katz here to the rescue. These gluten-free glazed rings are the perfect fall dessert sans wheat substances. Eat up with an easy tummy and happy tastebuds.

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27 Writing Lessons & Hacks From Some of the Best Writers on the Planet

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The amount of bad writing advice out there is astounding. People who have never published anything selling courses on how to make a career as a writer. Terribly written Medium articles telling you how to improve your prose. Marketing books from writers who not only haven’t sold many books—but their own marketing books don’t sell. All this bad advice adds up and makes a harder thing—an already difficult industry to navigate—even harder.

Over the last year, I’ve been lucky enough to interview some of the best writers on the planet for It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to ask Pulitzer Prize winners, #1 New York Times best-selling authors, brilliant novelists, talented journalists and expert communicators about how they practice their craft. I got valuable lessons from each one. I’ve collected a few of the best below, alongside some of the insights—or hacks as we call them today to get more people to click—from writers I wish were still alive to interview or ones I wish to interview someday if the opportunity presents itself.

I hope you learn as much from them as I did. Enjoy!


Devote Yourself to Someone Greater First

“If I am asked today to advise a young writer who has not yet made up his mind what way to go, I would try to persuade him to devote himself first to the work of someone greater, interpreting or translating him. If you are a beginner there is more security in such self-sacrifice than in your own creativity and nothing you ever do with all your heart is done in vain.”

Stefan Zweig, author of The World of Yesterday and in the 1920’s and 1930’s was one of the most popular authors in the world

Wake Up Early And Read, Read, Read

“I wake up around 5am. I have 2-3 cups of coffee. I read and read and read for two hours. I read high quality literary fiction to be inspired, high quality non-fiction about a topic I am fascinated by in order to learn, I read inspirational or spiritual writing to feel that special something inside, and often I will spend some  time studying a game. Then I might read the literary fiction some more. At some point, I get the urge or the itch to put the books away. I go to my computer and start to write.”

—  James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself!, which the USA Today’s called one of “Best Business Books of All Time.”

Do Not Chase Exotic Locations to Write

“It was a time everyone was pressing wonderful houses on us. ‘I have a perfectly marvellous house for you to write in,’ they’d say. Of course no one needs marvellous houses to write in. I still knew that much. All you needed was one room. But somehow the next house always beckoned.”

Budd Schulberg, author of What Makes Sammy Run? and the Academy Award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront

Edit Ten Times

“I repeatedly edit it many times, at least ten. I just keep on doing it, until I can’t think of further improvements. I can’t say that is a process in any formal sense, simply a recognition that the “process” to date hasn’t worked very well and so it must continue. I don’t pretend this is efficient.”

Tyler Cowen, economics professor, author of Average Is Over and contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and many other publications

Nobody Gets Talker’s Block

“No one ever gets talker’s block. No one wakes up in the morning, discovers he has nothing to say and sits quietly, for days or weeks, until the muse hits, until the moment is right, until all the craziness in his life has died down.”

Seth Godin, New York Times bestselling author of Purple Cow and more than 20 other books

Do the Three Passes of Editing

“[My editing] rests on three passes. The first pass is when you write the best chapter you can. The second pass comes later once the whole book (or whole part of the book containing the chapter) is done. During this pass, I come back to the chapter on my computer and cut and tighten. The final pass is when I read through a printed version of the chapter on paper. Reading on paper is necessary if you’re going to root out odd constructions or minor errors.”

Cal Newport, author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Deep Work

The Only Way Out is Through

“The way out of this mess is through. A friend of mine who used to do long-distance running gave me some advice on dealing with pain as a writer. “What do you do about the cramps?” I asked. I was noticing they hit my in the gut usually at the three or four mile mark. I thought he’d have some great advice on how to avoid them altogether. In fact, I assumed this was the case. His answer surprised me, though. ‘Cramps? What do I do? I keep running, and eventually they go away. I run through the cramps.’ What do I do when I feel blocked? I write through the block.”  

Jeff Goins, author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Real Artists Don’t Starve

Sometimes You Just Need Some Good Earmuffs

“I’m an “absolute quiet” kind of person. If I’m writing at home, and there’s any noise at all, such as my wonderful hubby puttering around and coincidentally clearing his throat, I wear my Peltor Sport Ultimate 10 Hearing Protector Earmuffs. I’m so used to them that when I need to concentrate, I put them on even when there isn’t any noise. Earmuffs are like a signal to my brain—Okay, focus! On planes, I often wear noise canceling headphones.”  

Dr. Barbara Oakley, bestselling author of A Mind for Numbers and former Army Captain

Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

“What they want to hear is, ‘Here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script’…but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’”

Steve Martin, author of Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life and award-winning actor and banjo player

Keep the Best in Mind

“It really depends on the genre of work I’m doing–I always try to keep models in mind, though the model will change depending on what I’m working on. For the book on Cato the Younger, Jimmy Soni and I were constantly referring to Tom Holland’s book on the Roman Republic, Rubicon; for our book on Claude Shannon, to James Gleick’s The Information and Sylvia Nasar’s A Beautiful Mind. For my academic work, people like Danielle Allen are great models.”

Rob Goodman, congressional speechwriter and co-author of A Mind at Play and Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar

Quit Your Bitching

“Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.”

Cheryl Strayed, author of the number #1 New York Times bestseller Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things

Fix The Important Things

“Writer’s block is miserable and part of it can be just being in a really bad place. Sometimes if you’re just in a bad mental place, it doesn’t matter what work you put in. You have to fix bigger things than your writing.”

Hari Kondabolu, the comic who the New York Times called “one of the most necessary political comedians working today.”

Get a Giant Sketchpad

Notebooks have always been big for me, both in the early stages of a new project and as a way to get myself unstuck if I’m struggling. But I have giant, chicken-scratch handwriting, and would always end up jotting down thoughts over half a dozen pages and then never really looking at them again. I have probably fifty illegible notebooks sitting in desk drawers, and I would easily have filled fifty more had I not been introduced to the most elegant solution by a friend, the author Ashley Cardiff: A sketchpad. A 9-by-12-inch artist’s sketchpad. This has been my great revelation. It’s unlined so I can read my bad handwriting and large enough that I can group several ideas together on the same page. Plus, it gives me an excuse to buy fancy mechanical pencils.”

Liana Maeby, author of South on Highland, which actor/writer BJ Novak called “the kind of book kids will steal from each other.”

It’s All Material

“I’m never not working on material. Every second of my existence, I am thinking, ‘Can I do something with that?’” [By the way, this advice echoes a phrase I’ve learned from author Robert Greene, “It’s all material.” Meaning everything bad that happens, everything frustrating or delayed or disappointing—all of it can be fuel for a book. It can teach you something that helps you improve your business, it can become a story you pass along to a friend.]

Jerry Seinfeld, creator of Seinfeld and named by Comedy Central the “12th Greatest Stand-up Comedian of All Time.”

Understand How the Pieces Fit Together

“To write a clean and fluent piece of any kind, you have to understand how its various parts fit together—how a change here will affect something over there. With a short piece, you never lose sight of the whole because you can read and reread it many times as you work. That’s what I do. I make a change and then I read the whole piece to see how it works. But I can’t do that with a book, so I have to find other ways to stay oriented. I reread or skim sections of the book that I know relate to the part I’m working on, I keep notes about the larger structure, and I use Word’s phrase-search function to move around and check up on things. I also make a huge effort to commit as much of the book as I can to memory. It’s exhausting and it seems psychologically damaging in some way, but it helps me to understand when jokes need to be repeated, how much space needs to intervene between similar kinds of scenes, how ideas should be patterned, etc.”

Aaron Thier, author of Mr. Eternity and recipient of a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts

Run to Keep Yourself Sane

“The twin activities of running and writing keep the writer reasonably sane and with the hope, however illusory and temporary, of control.” [This is not unlike many other writers—including Murakami and Malcolm Gladwell—who use running as a coping mechanism.]

Joyce Carol Oates, author of over 40 novels, including Them, winner of the National Book Award  

Before You Write, Crystallize Your Thinking

“If I’m just starting, I never consider the page blank. I’ve been writing in my head long before I sit down at the keyboard. In fact, I sometimes start inadvertently, by describing to someone what I’m doing. Conversation often crystallizes my own thinking far more effectively than solitary reflection. When I put the first words down, I know they’re likely to change, which I find liberating—no need to get it perfect the first time. But I want the first sentence to set a tone or indicate a theme for that chapter, so I have to start with a clear sense of the meaning of the events that follow, and how I want the reader to feel.”

Pulitzer Prize winner T.J. Stiles, author of Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America

Let the Play Accumulate

“Don’t start writing the play at once, but get a little notebook and put down everything you think about your play in the notebook, just as the ideas come to you without rhyme or reason especially. Let the play accumulate, as I call it; let it percolate and stew in your mind; and write down any ideas, bits of dialogue, descriptions, words—anything you think you might be able to use. Many of these things will come to you unconsciously while you are walking home from school, bathing, mowing the lawn; be sure to get them all into your notebook.”

E.P. Conkle, professor emeritus of drama whose plays have been produced on Broadway

Take the Necessary Medicine

“I tend to edit heavily and repeatedly as I go along, so I don’t make the distinction, at least by myself. For the books that I’ve written for a larger public, however, I’ve had the help of an immensely gifted editor (Alane Mason, at Norton), so there I do separate out the tasks: in effect my own writing/editing; and then a further editing after receiving her suggestions. I tend to hate the latter experience, though I recognize that it is almost invariably good—a bit like swallowing disagreeable but essential medicine.”

Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve, a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award winner

To Beat Writer’s Block, Double Down on Research

“When I have writer’s block it is because I have not done enough research or I have not thought hard enough about the subject about which I’m writing. That’s a signal for me to go back to the archives or to go back into my thoughts and think through what it is I am supposed to be doing.”

— MacArthur “Genius” and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Always Ask These Questions

“What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?” Then finish with these final two questions: ‘Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?’”

George Orwell, famous author of 1984 and Animal Farm

You Don’t Need a Vomit Draft

“Writers are usually encouraged to write a “vomit draft” and just get something out, however terrible it is, in order to overcome The Fear, get some momentum, and move to more of an editing mindset, where’s it’s less scary to make progress. I don’t do that. I think that’s just a trick to try and lower the stakes so you can overcome procrastination and The Fear. And while it’s good for that, I think it’s bad in the long haul because you’re producing a lot of junk and that’s going to be hard to fully clean up. I treat writing a lot more like architecture. You wouldn’t work without a blueprint, construct a crappy building, then knock it down and build a better one. That would be ridiculous. You’d put together a really tight blueprint, then construct the building once, the right way, and if it needs tweaks, they’re relatively small. As the old saying goes: ‘Measure twice, cut once.’”

Eric Barker, author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Barking Up The Wrong Tree and creator of the popular blog of the same name

Keep the Momentum

“Never stop when you are stuck. You may not be able to solve the problem, but turn aside and write something else. Do not stop altogether.”

—Jeanette Winterson, a two-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award and author best known for Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, which was adapted into a BBC drama

You Don’t Need to be Kissed by a Muse

When asked if writing comes easy: “Haha, no, I’ve not been kissed by a muse. For me, writing is a craft that needs constant honing.”

Andrea Wulf, author of The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, which won the Royal Society Science Book Award 2016 and the LA Times Book Prize 2016.

Write for the Ear

“I’ve got a theory that most writers are either frustrated musicians or painters – and which of them you are depends on whether you write for the ear or the eye.  As a former musician and former speechwriter, I definitely write for the ear. I listen to music all the time for inspiration and energy. I tend to make playlists as the sound track for writing different books.  They serve as snapshots in time.  So, I’ve got one for Wingnuts – lots of The National, Drive-By-Truckers, Radiohead and Randy Newman – and one for Washington’s Farewell that’s more classical, jazz, the Americana series by Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer and the soundtrack to Hamilton.”

John Avlon, author of Washington’s Farewell and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast

Learn How to Take Brutally Frank Criticism

“I try to imagine comments, questions, and criticisms that the book will generate. Then I try to rehearse the reply or answer. My friends are great critics of my writing and I always make sure they have read the drafts and galleys and been brutally frank with me about their reactions. They know I can take it.”

Richard Clarke, former Assistant Secretary of State who has served under three different Presidents in different roles and author of Warnings: Finding Cassandras To Stop Catastrophes

Wake Up and Get After It

“I remember Salman Rushdie telling me how he gives it the first energy of the day. As soon as he gets up, he goes to his office and starts writing. He’s still in his pajamas. He believes there is a “little package of creative energy that was nourished by sleep,” and he doesn’t want to waste it. He works for an hour or two and then goes to brush his teeth. I have a very similar approach. Only I brush my teeth before I start. I guess that’s my pre-writing ritual.”

Cal Fussman, best known for the “What I’ve Learned” Esquire column and a master interviewer who has talked to the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev, Muhammad Ali, John Wooden, Richard Branson


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Document details scrapped deal for Trump Tower Moscow

Washington (CNN)Around the time presidential candidate Donald Trump was touting his real estate dealings at a Republican primary debate, a proposal was in the works to build a Trump Tower in Russia that would have given his company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales, and control over marketing and design. And that’s not all: the deal included the opportunity to name the hotel spa after his daughter Ivanka.

An internal Trump Organization document from October 2015, obtained by CNN on Thursday, reveals the details of a 17-page letter of intent that set the stage for Trump’s attorney to negotiate a promising branding venture for Trump condominiums, a hotel and commercial property in the heart of Moscow. Trump signed the document later that month, according to Michael Cohen, his corporate attorney at the time. The document CNN obtained does not have Trump’s signature because it is a copy of the deal that Cohen brought to Trump to sign.
Cohen pulled out of the arrangement three months later as the project failed to get off the ground.
    Trump did not mention during the presidential campaign that his company explored the business deal in Russia. Instead, he insisted that he had “nothing to do with Russia.” Even when talking about his past dealings with Russians — like the Miss Universe pageant he held in Moscow in 2013 — Trump never referred to the prospective licensing deal that fell through a few weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
    While the potential Russian deal was still on the table, Trump was speaking positively about working with Russian President Vladimir Putin and also minimized Russia’s aggressive military moves around the world. His willingness to accept narratives favored by the Kremlin contrasted with not only the Obama administration but also his Republican opponents.
    At the debates, Trump went after those opponents — but not Putin. In a primary debate in September 2015, he said he “would get along with” Putin and articulated a more conciliatory posture toward the Kremlin. In October 2015, days before he signed the letter of intent, Trump tweeted a link to an article titled “Putin loves Donald Trump.”
    Cohen has publicly acknowledged discussing the deal with Trump on three occasions. A source familiar with those conversations adds that they lasted less than four minutes combined.
    Felix Sater, a Russian-born former Trump business associate and mob-linked felon who figured prominently in development of the Trump SoHo property in New York, served as an intermediary in the Moscow venture, shuttling documents between Cohen and the Russian development firm he was hoping to partner with.
    In an email to Cohen, Sater wrote the project could “possibly fix relations between the countries by showing everyone that commerce and business are much better and more practical than politics.” He continued, “That should be Putin’s message as well, and we will help him agree on that message. Help world peace and make a lot of money, I would say that’s a great lifetime goal for us to go after.”
    The preliminary agreement for the Moscow project was signed by Trump on or around October 28, 2015, according to a statement Cohen gave last week to Congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Also signing was Andrey Rozov, owner of I.C. Expert Investment Company, which would have been responsible for developing the property, which they hoped to build in the heart of Moscow.
    The general outlines of the potential deal, and its collapse, came to light in Cohen’s statement last week. But the new details in the document obtained by CNN reveal a branding bonanza in which the Trump Organization would have had no responsibility for financing the project — the potential cost of which is not even mentioned — but have control over the property’s management and appearance.
    This letter of intent was not a legally binding contract. But it was an agreement that the two parties would try to forge a more formal agreement down the road. It set the contours of the negotiations.
    Both parties agreed the property would be named Trump World Tower Moscow. But when the letter was signed, the Russian company still hadn’t identified a plot of land where it could be built.
    According to the document, Trump World Tower Moscow would have featured about 250 luxury condominium units, 15 floors of hotel rooms, as well as space for commercial properties and offices.
    “All plans shall be subject to (the Trump Organization’s) prior review and approval…” the document says, giving Trump’s company broad oversight over the aesthetics. “Each architect, designer, engineer landscape designer and consultant retained by (I.C. Expert) in connection with the design construction and development of the Property shall be subject to (the Trump Organization’s) prior written approval.”
    The preliminary deal indicated that Trump International Hotels Management LLC would manage the hotel portion of the tower, which was expected to feature a luxury fitness center and spa.
    Trump’s company was explicitly given the option to “brand any or all portion of the spa or fitness facilities as ‘The Spa by Ivanka Trump’ or similar brand,” according to the document. And if they did name it after Trump’s daughter, then Ivanka or her designee would be given “sole and absolute discretion” to approve “all interior design elements of the spa or fitness facilities,” the document says.
    Even though the deal was non-binding, it delved into specifics about payments and fees.
    If the parties reached a formal licensing deal, the Trump Organization would have received $4 million in upfront payments, including $1 million right away, according to the document. Another $1 million was slated for when a building location was approved, and the remaining $2 million would’ve been paid out when construction began or two years after the contract was signed — whichever came first.
    Trump’s company would have received a cut of the profits from sales of condominiums and commercial space. There was a decreasing scale for what percentage of the condo sales the company would receive, based on the price of the unit. The scale started with getting 5% of condos costing up to $100,000.
    Trump’s company would also be paid a percentage of other sales affiliated with the property, including commercial and office space and even “concessions, activity fees, catering, conferences and banquet fees,” according to the document. Another 2% of the tower’s gross operating revenue would be set aside to use for “coordinated sales and marketing efforts among all ‘Trump’ branded hotels.”
    But these revenue streams were aspirational without an actual licensing contract. Even though Trump and Rozov, of the Russian company, signed the document, it was preliminary and non-binding.
    “The Parties agree that unless and until a License Agreement between the Parties has been executed and delivered, no party shall be under any legal obligation of any kind whatsoever to consummate a transaction hereby by virtue of the (letter of intent),” the document says.
    The document goes on to say that, “This (letter of intent) shall not be construed to be a binding contract between the Parties,” except for three clauses, including a provision about brokers. Even though Sater acted as an intermediary between the Trump Organization and I.C. Expert, the Russian company affirmed in the document “that it has not dealt with any broker with respect to the transaction.”
    There is nothing in the document about where the Russian company would get the money to finance the project, or which banks it would work with. Sater told the New York Times last month that he lined up financing from VTB Bank, which is partially owned by the Kremlin and is under US sanctions.
    I.C. Expert Investment Company lists seven “banking partners” on its website, including VTB Bank. Three of the other banks are either partially or completely controlled by Russian government entities. The other three are private.
    When contacted by CNN, Cohen said his dealings with a Russian company were simply part of his job responsibilities. “It was part of my job to prospect for business opportunities, domestic and foreign.”
    “Mr. Cohen will cooperate with the committees, has turned over the appropriate documents that have been requested and will meet with them if requested,” his attorney Stephen Ryan told CNN.
    In his statement to Congress, Cohen said that “the Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign” and that “the decision to pursue the proposal initially, and later to abandon it, was unrelated to the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign.”
    But it was being negotiated during a critical time for Trump. Up in the polls, but with months to go before the first votes were cast in Iowa, Trump was trying to maintain the lead and knock out his GOP competition, and defy the widely-held conventional wisdom that he couldn’t actually win the nomination.
    Trump allies, including those inside the Trump Organization, argue that he shouldn’t have been required to neglect or abandon his business while running for the presidency, which he could have lost.
    The effort was never publicly disclosed by Trump during the campaign, though there wasn’t any requirement that he do so. But he insisted on several occasions that he had “nothing” to do with Russia, with a few exceptions — a mansion he sold to a Russian in 2008, and the Miss Universe pageant he held in Moscow in 2013. He never mentioned the potential Trump Tower deal as one of the exceptions.
    “I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away,” Trump said in early January 2017 as President-elect. “We could make deals in Russia very easily if we wanted to, I just don’t want to because I think that would be a conflict. I have no loans, no dealings, and no current pending deals.”
    Trump maintained that posture into his presidency, never once mentioning the failed effort to do business in Moscow, even as Special Counsel Robert Mueller and multiple Capitol Hill committees investigated his relationship with Russia.
    “I have had dealings over the years where I sold a house to a very wealthy Russian many years ago. I had the Miss Universe pageant — which I owned for quite a while — I had it in Moscow a long time ago. But other than that, I have nothing to do with Russia,” Trump told NBC News in May.
    Investigators working for the special counsel are looking at whether Trump had any business dealings that could have put him or his associates in a compromising position with Russia.

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    The Best Drug Store Facial Cleansers & The Ones You Should Literally Never Use

    Unless you’re into Korean beauty treatments, expensive and rare facial oils, or have an old Swedish facialist that follows you around with helpful tips and tricks (where do I find this), you’re likely heading to your neighborhood drugstore for your facial cleansing needs. And that’s a big, scary world, fam. There are oil-free cleansers, full-of-oil cleansers, cleansers with exfoliators, cleansers with minerals, cleansers for acne, cleansers that will probs give you acne, cleansers for the old, cleansers for alcoholics (hi), and much much more. We’re being great friends by helping narrow the aisle a bit.

    Here are some cleansers to literally never fucking use and some that’ll probs help.


    1. Witch Hazel

    Not really a cleanser, more of a toner, but hear us out. For those of you who crave the cleansing purity of alcohol but don’t love the whole “omg my skin is dry and on fire” thing, witch hazel is for you. Once you actually wash your face, dab some sort of witch hazel on (it doesn’t have to be fancy … generic will do) as a very gentle toner. It’ll chill out your acne, while evening out your complexion.

    2. Neutrogena Naturals Fresh Cleansing And Makeup Remover

    Not only does this actually remove your crusted-on mascara, but it’s also super gentle and is fantastic for zit-prone skin. It’ll leave your face feeling clean AND not overly dry, so that’s a plus.

    3. Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash

    Removes dirt and oil without stripping your skin, which is super important if you have a sensitive face that doesn’t play well with anything harsh. It can also remove eye makeup without making you feel like you were maced.

    4. Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Cream Cleanser

    Removes dirt, oil, makeup, and nasty shit from your face, while nourishing your face with dermatologist tested and approved cream cleanser. It also doesn’t have any parabens, phthalates, or petrolatum, so it’s hippie approved.


    1. St. Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub

    Invigorating here means scrubbing the first layer of your skin off—which, while yes, it’s def smoother, it’s also now super prone to infections, zits, and uneven tone. Did you know there’s a legit lawsuit against St. Ives for marketing this shit? That’s how bad it is. So maybe throw that shit out and be nice to your face for a change. Exfoliating is good. Removing layers of skin and having what feels like a chemical peel every day is not.

    2. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser

    Want a dry and crusty face? Use this shit. Neutrogena is usually super on top of its game, but for some reason, this stuff makes users’ faces dry and tight. It smells nice, which is great, but doesn’t save it from our shit list today.

    3. Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

    Okay, hear us out. This shit is awesome if you have combination skin and acne that flares up from too much drying. However, if you have oily skin, it may make your zits worse. Definitely try it if you must, but buyer beware.


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    Como cuando sacas 10 en marketing pero 0 en diseo

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    A Letter Of Resignation: What Its Like To Hit Rock Bottom

    Tomas Chevalier

    This is Spaceship Earth. It is, to the day, exactly as old as I am. We were both born October 3, 1982. We’ve been alive for 34 years, 10 months and 17 days. Earlier this year, I ran past it on my way to completing the very first marathon I’d ever run … a quite literally unbelievable feat for someone who was born with lungs that function at 53% capacity. The race took me 6 hours, 42 minutes and 25 seconds. Upon completion, I had a glass of champagne. I deserved it. This story is only tangentially about that.

    Exactly half my life ago, some 17 years, 5 months and 8 days ago, I started a career which has been well documented — yet hidden in plain sight. It was an illustrious career, which netted me a great deal of satisfaction and joy. I am here today to announce my retirement from it. I’ve held a lot of jobs during that time — waiter, bartender, writer, musician, branding “guru”, marketing manager, mathematician, weatherman, sports columnist, podcast host — but none of them were my real career. I’m holding onto the jobs I still have. Today, I am firmly, unequivocally retiring from the sport of professional drinking. And, so I am clear on this, let me say the words that will haunt you, so that I may no longer be haunted by keeping them secret: I am John Gorman. And I am, in no uncertain terms, an alcoholic.

    It’s almost my brand at this point, but, in case you’re new: I’ve spent the past year or so in a spectacular downward spiral. I am, by all metrics, less healthy and happy than I was in the Spring of 2016, when I was at my absolute pinnacle. The decline was so gentle, and the zenith so high, that I barely felt real ramifications even though I knew things were getting wobbly at the top. I still (thankfully) have my job. I still have (most of) my friends. And only very few people pointed out to me that I had “changed.”

    But I, myself, could tell what was happening. So I went running for answers. I traveled the country, hoping to find them. I visited old friends in old cities. I visited ex-girlfriends. I saw baseball games. I saw concerts. I drank in dimly lit bars. I pillaged my past — the people and places and activities from it — to try and rediscover myself. Often, I didn’t find what I was looking for. Even if I had a helluva lot of fun along the way. This was piece and parcel of my life writ large — a never-ending party, a show designed to entertain those who dared to watch, at the expense of myself and my health.

    In April in New York, on a very long, dimly lit night, I drank in Astoria with one of my best friends, and a woman I hadn’t seen in seven years. I had been cataclysmically drunk the entire weekend to that point, and I would continue to be right up until the morning after I’d returned to Austin. But, while at the bar, I said, frankly, “Follow me down the black hole.” I knew where I was headed, because I had already been there. Aided by cognac and fernet, I found I could be refreshingly candid with them, even if that meant being unusually dark and nihilist. And that was the easiest thing to notice: my darkness. That was new. That didn’t exist before — at least not outwardly. And that was my first warning sign that it was time for me to walk away. (The dozens of empty champagne bottles in my pantry that had been building up since Christmas of 2015 didn’t ring the alarm, but the inability to hide my sadness apparently was a bridge too far.)

    My most recent ex used to compare me to Mr. Peanut Butter from for my relentless positivity. And, at the time I had met her, it was hard not to be clear skies and warm sun all the time. Everything was going my way: I was in the best shape and health of my life, my career was in the perfect spot, I had some money saved up, I had a ton of good quality relationships with friends and family, and I generally spent most of my day doing things I loved to do — music, writing, running, biking, reading and learning things. I did this, I think, because I had spent a good majority of the previous year sober. You see, I knew I had to stop drinking in the fall of 2014. And I had.

    I was already out of control by that point, a man so enamored with whiskey and gin that I’d blacked out on my 32nd birthday after making out with five women — none of women were the one I was dating at the time, and, frankly, she was probably the greatest woman I’d ever dated, and, yes … she left me for good the following day — and, to quote an observer, I spent a solid hour “flopping around on the ground like a dolphin out of the sea.” I quit then. And I mostly didn’t drink for over a year thereafter. I did it without broadcasting it to the world. (Mostly.)

    But I remember the day I re-started in earnest — it was the day I met the woman I couldn’t bare to be without. It was an innocent sidecar on our first date, on November 8, 2015. We broke up the week before I went to New York. And, yes, I went to New York because we broke up. I drunkenly cancelled the trip I had planned for us to go to Cuba, since that was no longer in the cards, and used that money to fly to the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. And, for the first time, I was forced to reconcile with who I’d become while making peace with a past that, while wonderful, was tinged with regret. I met an ex-girlfriend to see Waitress. I met another one at a dive in Brooklyn, where I sucked down Tito’s and Soda until I was blue in the fucking face.

    My darkness was suddenly front-and-center. I was confronted with it, with nowhere left to turn, because how can anyone escape themselves. I was now completely unhinged, detached from time and space and reality. I turned my drinking — as I often have, but never to the extent that I did now — into a cloak of invincibility; shielding me from consequences for my actions. Now that my tank of fucks left to give was dry, I didn’t have to give any. I started behaving … erratically. Drinking more, and more often, than usual. On an average night, some five-to-six nights per week, I would put away somewhere between 10 and 20 shots of alcohol. This has been the case for the past year. That’s not a misprint.

    I was losing interest in things I once loved, and taking a liking to pursuits that could kill me if I did them long enough. Pursuits like finding my way to the bottom of a bottle — every day, many times per day. I also began numbing myself through sex, Netflix, rich foods, travel and experiences. And those were all great, because, well — what isn’t great when you’re hashtag living your best life? My behavior was Instagrammable. When I would tell people “all I do is drink until I black out, smoke until I can’t breathe, eat pizza until I can’t walk, and fuck anyone and everyone,” people complimented me on my fierce independence and brash silliness. And although I was broadcasting my sadness and self-cruelty to the world, no one seemed to get the message.

    And, when those wells of distraction had run dry, or I couldn’t muster the energy to go out into the world, I began to mindlessly scroll my social media feeds — not even for the sake of connecting with people or commenting, but merely to pass the time. And I fell into a rut. And even more drinking. The quest to find the answer for the darkness became an imperative, and, arguably, the actual answer to the darkness itself. I was becoming sick and sad, cynical and weird, lazy and fearful. The walls began to close in — and then they collapsed.

    I spent a morning that lasted all afternoon holed up in a hotel room in Phoenix, pounding bottles of champagne and staring into my phone hoping the meaning of life would magically appear. I was paralyzed, crippled by fear and darkness and anxiety. What’s wrong with me? And I began to think with a very specific, urgent purpose. I was going to lean into this feeling and find my way out.

    I reasoned, with unusual clarity, that at the root of my drinking and my suffering is a pathological desire to not be alone. To be wanted, needed, validated and rewarded. This checked about 80% of the boxes: My steady stream of “content” I put out on my Facebook feed. My inability to say no to smoking or drinking if someone asks me to, my pathological willingness to take on more work, go to more events, and do more favors than I can realistically handle. My propensity for flirting with almost everyone. My insatiable messiah complex. My hyper-sensitivity to criticism from friends, peers and lovers. But that did not quite cut to the root of it. The question I then proposed: why can’t I be alone?

    Initially, I thought I did not like myself. But as I reasoned objectively, that wasn’t always the case. There were times when I *did* like myself very much. 2015 was a prime example. In fact, I can look back at most of my life and say, yes, I was someone I would find interesting, and decent to hang out with. But I realized I felt that way in times when I was very busy — being with people, experiencing new things, accomplishing goals, performing well at tasks, making and creating. And I like all those things about me. But baseline?

    I then went to baseline. I decided to drown myself in … myself. And more champagne. I ghosted social media for two weeks. I went off-grid. And I was, unsurprisingly, miserable. But I kept thinking. And kept listening. It was quiet on the outside — and loud as hell in my head.

    In the midst of that quiet, that’s when I heard it: My hyper-critical, rude, caustic and abrasive internal dialogue. The voice in my head that kept directing me: You should be doing something. You shouldn’t be 34 and single. You should be farther along in your career. You shouldn’t be such a whore. You shouldn’t drink so much. You know you shouldn’t be smoking that. When are you going to get off anti-anxiety meds? Why are you so fat? Don’t eat that. Don’t drink that. That’s bad for you. You’re unhealthy. You’re weird. You’re lazy. You’re careless. You’re a fuck-up. You’re going to ruin your life. You’re going to die. No one will remember you. No one’s going to love you. You’re nothing. You should kill yourself.

    And that’s when I learned. Everything I do is an attempt to silence, or escape, the impossibly cruel and exacting voice inside my head. Sometimes this manifests itself in a good way: Travelling, pouring myself into my work, learning new things, creating music, writing, rock climbing, other novel experiences. These only temporarily silence the voice. But, at my core, I realized that’s why I drank. To shut the mouth of the asshole who lives inside my head.

    I swam back up to the surface and took a deep breath. There would be no deeper insight. I finally understood why I am who I am. And, the way I’d been coping with it, was not respite — it was fanning the flames.

    Let’s talk for a minute about what being an alcoholic is really like. I sleep on an un-made bed, with no sheets on it, sheets that are balled up in a laundry basket, covered in cat vomit. That’s if I make it to bed. Most days I black out on the couch, watching Cold War documentaries for the sake of self-edification and yet almost nothing stays with me overnight. I mostly wake up wondering what year it is.

    I started smoking a pack a day, for whatever reason, as if it’s not stupid enough to smoke anything at all while I — again — have 53% of a human lung. Imagine being born with COPD and then being like “nah, fuck it, I don’t care how I die, so I might as well die in the most obvious way possible, as soon as possible.”

    I have, to the best of my knowledge, slept with over 200 women — 30 in the past six months. I do not know why. Maybe to beat back the inescapable loneliness. Actually, only for that reason. Had I been capable of loving myself, I probably wouldn’t need so many people to love me.

    I’ve gotten too drunk on two dates in the past month — both of which were with people I actually, truly, adored, and still do. There were no second dates. Imagine, being able to find love and punting on it because fernet shots are so much more desirable than potential life-long companionship.

    My house is a certified sty. Dishes piled on the counter-top. Nacho debris littered all over the rug. I should probably be vacuuming instead of writing this. I’m not. Imagine, coming home, wading through a pile of bottles and bullshit, and thinking “nah, that’s fine. The minefield is just the price I pay for living with myself.”

    I have eaten five meals this week. Three of which were (full, large) pizzas. One of which was a pasta salad that had been sitting out at room temperature for 24 hours, but, I didn’t have the self-discipline to throw it out and eat something else. Imagine being so in the realm of not giving a shit that you willingly say to yourself “there’s definitely bacteria in this and this smells like dead squirrel, but, fuck it, I’m hungry and this tastes fine.” I’ve lost 10 pounds in the past six months, subsisting only on carbonated liquids that range from IPA to bourbon. Only eating when my body was literally craving a vegetable. (BTW, if you ever think, “Fuck, that salad looks delicious,” you’re probably farther down the path of an unhealthy lifestyle than you think you are.)

    And so, now, here I stand: at the precipice, staring into the abyss, and realizing the time is now to turn the car around before it careens over the cliff. 17 years, 5 months and 8 days was just long enough to be at the peak of my powers. Or, more accurately, to be actively sabotaging me from being at the peak of my powers. I plan on spending the next 17 years, 5 months and 8 days — yes, until I am literally 52 years old, should I make it that far without dying from what I’ve already done to myself — sober. I am calling it a career. And, while, it had been a helluva ride to be sure, I want to stop the coaster and head to another amusement park.

    I am, currently, drinking — one last set of drinks. Yes, I’ve written this drunk. I started at noon with a 512 IPA — the beer that I drank when I wrapped my car around a tree. I continued with champagne — the drink I never loved until I met the woman I thought I’d finally found everlasting love with, the one who I, inadvertently, drove away because my personality changed so very much after I began guzzling alcohol like it was oxygen. I, then, stopped at a bar to enjoy a shot of whiskey and a shot of fernet, just to say goodbye to the two spirits that put me in the highest of spirits. And, now, two beers: Avery Brewing Company’s Maharaja, the first craft beer I was ever given for free, the one that kickstarted my writing career (I started as a beer blogger), and La Fin du Monde, which is my favorite beer of all time, and which literally means “The End of the World” in French. It feels apt. Tomorrow, I go to the doctor, and I talk to her about the things I’ve done and where is left to go from here. Who knows what comes next.

    Most people only write about getting sober after they’ve been at it a while, and it’s an inspirational story about self-discipline and perseverance. This is not that. This is a story about being the very bottom, holding onto the last blade of grass before you fall off the face of the Earth. This is a story that, while disjointed, and poorly written, is as accurate and raw of an account of where I am today as any of the most articulate theses I’ve written in my many years of writing. Actually, more so. This is, truly, me. Unvarnished. Unedited. Finally present. I am a fucking mess. A fraud. Not a failure, no, there is no such thing, but someone who can no longer be trusted to fix things on his own. Maybe I was never that person. I do not know.

    I mention Spaceship Earth because on the day I ran by it, at the pinnacle of my athletic career, I was 205 pounds (I typically tip the scales at about 170) and drinking and eating myself to death. The night before, I had unpacked a bottle of champagne, and pounded it to fall asleep that night. I did this at 9 p.m. I needed to be awake in six hours. I ran that marathon hungover, sweating out booze as I ran through every excruciating minute of those 26.2 miles. I did it as a sort of penance, but also as a sort of call-to-action: “If I can do this in the state I’m in, what can I do if I actually tried?” I thought about that for a while, and realized I’d never truly tried at anything. The only thing I’d ever put my heart and soul into was the relationship I started drinking again for. Everything else has been a happy byproduct of just being alive and good at whatever the fuck I was doing at the time.

    I don’t know what trying feels like. I don’t know what happiness feels like. I, increasingly, don’t know what sobriety feels like. I don’t know what I feel like. And, to be clear, now I want to know. I’ve spent half my life drinking — nearly every day, some days more than others — and now I wish to stop. This is my letter of resignation. I do not know what the future holds for me. I am scared. I am lost. I am unsure what my next career will be. I can only hope that it leads me to a place that isn’t where I am right now, because where I am right now feels like the literal Fin du Monde. And at 34 years, 10 months and 17 days old, that’s just too goddamn soon to say goodbye.

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