An Interview With the Editor of “RBG”

A discussion with Carla Gutierrez about editing the hit documentary “RBG,” mentorship, and what it takes to be an editor today.

By Monica Torres

Carla Gutierrez is the film editor behind this year’s hit documentary “RBG,” an intimate look at the life and fame surrounding U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was her job to distill decades of the 85-year-old’s life and litigation career into one movie. Gutierrez is also the editor of the Oscar-nominated film “La Corona,” the Emmy-nominated documentaries “Reportero” and “Kingdom of Shadows,” and is part of the 2018 class of new Academy members. I met her five years ago after I graduated college when she kindly reached out to me as a fellow alum and let me see what being a working journalist was like.

We chatted about the months she spent editing “RBG,” mentorship, and what it takes to be an editor today:

How do you give viewers a personal experience when you are editing archival footage?

I could talk to you for hours about this. That’s my job. The goal that we have as filmmakers is a strong collaboration with the directors to give a voice to their vision in the detail of the rhythm and the combination of sound and picture. The goal is to create as personal of a picture as you can, to get as close to the subject matter or the characters as you can.

[For the confirmation hearing], those were four days of archival footage that we went through, and a lot of it was dry. It’s about having an eye and looking for the moments that really jumped at you and then building around those moments. So it was very much the moment when the camera was on her husband, on Marty, and he’s smiling while she’s talking about him. And you can only get that from just watching a lot of the material that we have and spending time discovering the potential and the gems. And that was a gem.

You have a lot of interviews where people are talking about how much they love each other, but when you see a moment like that, in actual video, you can see the expressions of them being in the same room. Those are the moments that you focus on and you build around to give them more emotion. It’s fun.

In one moving sequence, we see women of different races and generations on the screen as a young Ginsburg argues her first Supreme Court case, Frontiero v. Richardson, and explains to a group of all-male justices how gender-based discrimination exists. Quotes from her legal brief explaining what it means to be a second-class citizen —“branded inferior,” “subordinate,” “waste of human resources”— appear alongside these women as we see Ginsburg advocate on their behalf.

When I was watching the material at the very beginning, I was feeling emotionally close to the challenges that women in all generations have had that I can relate to, but I never felt so emotionally close to that. As a younger generation, there’s a bit of a distance that we have with the ‘70’s women’s movement, or the struggle to get our vote, because we take some of those things for granted. Through [Ginsburg’s] work, it made me feel incredibly close to those women and incredibly grateful. And it was a conversation with the directors that we wanted to make sure that the viewer also felt close to the women who inspired her work.

In all the interview archival that we have, [RBG] would always talk about the people that came before her. There’s that gratitude that she has for people who have done the work before her. We wanted to make sure that the viewers also felt personally close to those women. And I find that just by seeing those faces looking at you is a way to see them as yourself.

That’s one of things we tried with Frontiero when we were using all those black-and-white pictures of women from all different generations from the beginning of the history of the United States.

Did you end up meeting RBG in person?

I did! I met her at Sundance where we had the premiere.

The directors introduced the entire crew and we were all women. There were six of us. When we stood up, she was super excited about that.

How is it to meet someone you’ve been studying for hours and hours?

It’s really weird, but I’m used to it now because I’ve been editing for a long time. The first time I met a subject that I had edited, I really scared him. I really wanted to talk to him right away. It was like starting a conversation that he didn’t know about, and I wanted to continue that conversation. I quickly learned that you can really scare people and make them feel like you’re stalking them at a party. I keep my distance with subjects now. I’m never going to get to know them on a personal level, I just know them as characters in a film.

A film is a film. You’re compressing so much time, you’re making decisions to focus on one aspect of someone’s life, you’re never going to present a whole picture of a person’s life.

Taking a different track on questions, I still remember the kindness you showed me five years ago and it made me think a lot about mentoring. Have you ever had someone like that for you?

Yes, other editors. I’m really lucky that I’m in a career where documentary editors are really generous with each other and with their time, I’ve found. With documentaries, it’s not like you’re making the big bucks.

Most people in this industry really love what they are doing and they really want to do it for a bigger reason because they feel the need to tell a story or they think that there’s a social issue it’s really important to bring more light on.  

A lot of the editors I’ve met have been incredibly generous. There’s one person in particular that gave me my first shot. I started as a translator for her, then as an assistant editor, then I ended up as a second editor. Her name is Kim Roberts. She just gave me the space to try things and to edit scenes and I learned a lot from her about longform storytelling.

What would be your advice for someone, particularly someone who is Latina who wants to do what you do and work as an editor?

If I get a call from a young Latina woman, I will definitely make myself available to them. 

Watch a lot of films, and try to talk to the people you admire. Study people, so that when you talk to them, make sure that you know their work. Look for opportunities for mentorship. When you’re working at an entry-level assistant editing position, don’t be scared to ask the editors for you to be available in the room where story conversations are happening. The worst thing that can happen is really people saying no.

When I’ve had the chance to work on a bigger team, I’ve really liked it when people ask me, “Would you mind if I try to edit something in my free time?” or “Would you mind if I sit when you’re talking with the directors?” I always tell them, well let me talk to the directors because it’s really up to them, they’re the bosses, but I would love it.

If you come in, just be respectful and listen unless someone asks you for your opinion. I learned a lot from watching other people.

For editors, there is a great organization in New York, the Karen Schmeer editing fellowship. The fellowship gives a fellowship to one emerging editor a year and they recently started a diversity program and the pilot is only in New York. I’m a part of that, I’m a mentor to a few of them.

If I get a call from a young Latina woman, I will definitely make myself available to them.

For this industry, everything is word of mouth. As an editor you are getting into an intimate creative collaboration with people. People really want recommendations. Directors are giving their babies to editors. We’re kind of the doulas. They want to feel comfortable with the editors and they want the right match.

What were other favorite movies from this year?

—“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
I really loved the Fred Rogers documentary. The communal experience of sobbing loudly in the theater is really cool and cathartic.

—“This Is Home
It’s a verite film about new refugees in the United States. It’s mostly grounded in observational footage. That was a really strong film.

—“The Sentence
Also incredibly moving and essential for the discussion of prison reform and family separation.

—“Inventing Tomorrow
There’s a global science competition fair for high school kids. Kids all over the world apply to it. The documentary focuses on kids in the third world who are doing projects specifically to solve environmental problems that they are facing in their backyard. My son who is really into science loved it and the conversation that it sparked on environmental change was great for him to have.

Summer’s End Astrology

The psychic is in.

By Gabrielle Sierra

August is upon us, and as hot days melt away into hot nights you may be wondering – what should I be doing with myself? How am I to know how to live my life without a psychic providing me with guidance?

Well fear not, dear readers, for I have gazed into my crystal balls and read the cards and monitored the planets, and I am now fully prepared to offer you all the blind life advice you will need to finish out your summer.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

August is your time to shine! If you were nervous about your birthday just remember – age is but a number, and that number is 78, the average lifespan for a person living in the United States. Time is on your side so relax and enjoy! But also don’t forget to be realistic. Take into account all those boozy nights you had in your 20’s that will probably shave a few years off your life. Also the drugs; those can’t help with aging. Plus you probably spend most of your day sitting at a desk which is actually killing you. Oh and senility, that happens at some point. Anyway, happy birthday you!

Virgo  (August 23 – September 22)

It isn’t your birthday yet, Diane, no one wants to hear about your potential party options.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Beautiful, kind Libra soul. Embracer of harmony and peace all around. This August go a little crazy! Spread a rumor, foment insurrection. Stand up in the middle of your yoga class and start calling people out for their shitty downward dog. Get onto a train before letting others off. Go to a public pool and splash around, shove a kid. You keep your zen for 90 percent of the year, you deserve one cheat month.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

You are known for being passionate and jealous so August is the perfect month to finally let Kevin know you have been following him. Maybe give him the dream journals.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

Sagittarius is basically the best sign. Your positive traits – confidence, positivity, intelligence, energy – basically cancel out your negative ones. Superficial? So what, you are confident about it. Inconsistent? Eh, you are intelligent enough to know that you don’t have to follow through on everything. Basically we get it, you own every month, so just stop posting it all on Instagram because it is really getting annoying.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

You are known for your ambition, but also for your practical nature. You set standards for yourself and others, and value responsibility. This month, pull the stick out of your butt and throw caution to the wind! Hit up a party, adopt a pet you are not ready to take care of, miss a few loan payments. Live your life and follow your impulses for once. This can finally be the August you join that fight club. YOLO, baby.

Aquarius  (January 20 – February 18)

Aquarius is an air sign, so this month you should get yourself out there into the great wide open! It is the perfect time to take a vacation: make sure to pick somewhere beautiful and clear where you can breathe deeply and let your hair down in the warm wind. If you can’t get away from work, step out into the hot stagnant air! Scream into the void and think about all your lousy choices as a crazy man pees nearby.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Pisces are known for being selfless so you don’t get a horoscope. Thank you for your sacrifice.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Independent, ambitious, and always up for a chance to trail-blaze, August is the perfect month for an Aries adventure. Grab your pack and head out on the open road. Climb that mountain, take the solo hike, camp under the stars. Document your trip relentlessly. Make sure to have that stranger take the photo from a few different angles so you can choose the best one to post on Facebook. See if the Grand Canyon has Wifi. Don’t forget to Instagram story your breakfast, the world must know.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Taurus people are known for being stubborn. This month, use your persistence for good! Ask for that raise at work and don’t take no for an answer. Camp out in your bosses office and refuse to leave until you are forcibly removed. Security has nothing on you, Taurus.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

You are two personalities in one, and no one knows which to expect. This month celebrate your clever nature and your dual set of traits by fluctuating wildly between emotions. Sob and then laugh hysterically. Throw something in anger and then act very afraid. Be your best self-s.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Your birthday already happened, Ashley, get over it.

Where Are We When We’re Online?

As technology enters evermore spheres of our lives, we spend more and more time in virtual space.

By Frida Oskarsdottir

While we humans have always looked to whatever forms of entertainment were available as escapism, smart devices have taken our ability to escape full circle, allowing us to participate in an alternate virtual space. I’m not talking about VR, I’m talking about group chats, work emails, status updates, and online dating. In science fiction, cyberspace is depicted as an infinite stream of 1s and 0s, zooming past each other against the inky black universe. We now reside in this mysterious void: “talking” to loved ones, “laughing” through emojis, “experiencing,” “being” “online”.

Even before the release of the first iPhone, it was clear that our actions in the virtual realm didn’t always mirror those outside of it. Psychologist John Suler describes this as “online disinhibition effect,” or more plainly put, why people act insane online. According to Suler, six factors comprise the phenomenon: dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority. Both violent trolling (toxic disinhibition) and surprising acts of kindness (benign disinhibition) can result from this volatile cocktail of factors, much like the varying results of any type of cocktail consumption. To extend the metaphor, some people will (usually drunkenly) tell you that it is our “true selves” that come out after a few drinks. Can the same be said for who we are online?

As people become comfortable living part of their lives online, we begin to normalize behavior that deviates further from what we might accept in real life, even from ourselves. We can do this because there is always someone a little bit nuttier than you posting too much about their marital issues or 25 consecutive identical selfies; the bar gets pushed further away from reality. Sure, you interrupted a meal to take a picture of your food and share it to an audience that includes your third grade teacher and your coworker from 11 years ago, but it’s not like you’re arguing with a bot on Twitter, right? Right??

Over the past two years, the actress Busy Philipps has emerged as an Instagram story darling by sharing mundane aspects of her life with her ravenous viewers (author included). Much has been written about her success with this endeavor versus as an actress, but what is missing from the discourse is how bizarre it is for her to have an endless, real-time, one-sided conversation with hundreds of thousands of strangers about her medical history, small children, and job. In fact, we don’t think it’s weird at all; she is simply an early adopter of a new social media platform. And lo and behold, the rest of us followed: Instagram reported last summer that over 250 million of its 500 million users posted stories every day.

Philipps’ brand is authenticity; we are to believe only the narrowest sliver exists between the woman we see on our screens and the one we could run into on the streets of L.A. But the thing about virtual space is that we can be whoever we want. We don’t have to enter until we’re perfectly groomed; so we can plan out exactly what we say in just the right amount of characters. The more time we spend as this version of ourselves–snarkier, funnier, prettier, smarter– the more comfortable we become, but the differences between the screen and the person behind it remain.

Millions of people looking for love– one out of four straight couples and two out of three gay couples now meet online–have to contend with these discrepancies, which are more complicated than just lying about your height on your dating profile. Articles are devoted to exactly how much time should be spent flirting online before meeting up; too much time means the other person is probably married, too little time means it’s just sex. What is implicit but unstated in these guides is that who we are online is fundamentally different, otherwise we’d never have to meet. When you do agree to get together the opportunity for virtual space is far from diminished. Maybe you answer some emails while you wait at the bar, rather than anxiously wondering if your date will recognize your unfiltered face. If it goes well, you might text your friends about it on the way home, and then dive into everything your date has posted publicly on social media.

While online dating presumes that at a certain point you get together and see where it goes in the real world, virtual space still finds its way into more established relationships. I might say goodbye to my husband in the morning before work but as soon as I step outside of our door, I can instantly connect with him at any point throughout the day. There’s no need to wait until we occupy the same physical space to share my thoughts with him. Imperceptibly but undeniably there is a difference between seeing one another at the end of the day and having been in constant communication. So too is there a difference between a disagreement online or in person; one of us might wait to bring up some annoyance at a careless remark made until we’re chatting online, putting space between our feelings and reactions. On more than one occasion I’ve found it easier to resolve a squabble online than in person, only to realize when we are back in the same room I’m not quite over it. On the other side of the coin, you only have to Google “online flirting cheating?” to see that for a lot of people, virtual space can get a little crowded.

In the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History of You,” the focus is a society wherein a growing population of people implant devices into their brains that record everything they see, allowing for total recall and playback of memories and the ability to jump into the virtual past at any moment. There are obvious benefits to the technology; we’re shown examples of improved homeland security and child safety. But slowly, the ways the “grain” impacts the protagonist become more sinister, from preoccupation with a lackluster job interview or obsessing over his wife’s interactions with another man at a party, to watching an old memory of himself having great sex while having boring sex. The most unsettling part comes after the TV is off, when you think about how close we are to realizing a similar future of full integration between ourselves and technology. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe before we travel to the end of the virtual universe we’ll come up for some fresh air, blinking in the sun. Our kids might eschew the iPhone 22S for a rotary or a telegraph, rolling their eyes at the infinite photos their parents used to take of themselves, floating in the cloud.

The 9 Worst Things We Have Witnessed in Open-Plan Office Spaces

The unpleasant experience of working in an open-plan office space.

By The Editors

Open plan office spaces are pretty hip these days. Cubicle-free desk arrangements encourage employees to communicate out loud and in direct sight of one another, giving the impression of an inclusive, democratic, and youthful company.

But with the lack of offices and walls comes an obvious lack of privacy. While some have responded to this by moving their personal business to the seclusion of a closed room or restroom, others have embraced the public nature of these spaces by going public with their once-private acts.

We here at High-Strung have all experienced working in an open plan office space at one point or another, and we are here to tell you: it gets real unpleasant real fast.

Here are nine of the worst things we have seen and experienced.

1. One of us noticed a man flossing his teeth in the office. While walking around. Barefoot.

2. Personal boundary issues are amplified —discussing your medical history with your proctologist? Yelling at the delivery person who forgot to bring extra soy sauce? A fight with your partner? Why book a conference room when you can horrify all your coworkers instead?

3. We didn’t know how vigorously someone could pick their nose.

4. Your headphones might obscure the sounds around you, but they don’t save us from your disgusting wet lip-smacking while you savor every bite of your lunch. We hate you.

5. We can’t hate that hard on wedgie picking. We’ve all been there.

6. A collection of half-drunk cups that are slowly piling up into an ominous mountain.

7. Seriously why is this one patch of carpet so wet?

8. Sometimes working with older people in an open office means they don’t understand how volume works through their headphones and you get free access to whatever they’re listening to on their lunch break —which is usually Rachel Maddow.

9. Shared office space means sharing. But why is it always a dude who thinks it’s acceptable to fill the shared trash can with his plastic bottles and smelly leftovers? Just saying dudes are gross.

Ticket for One

If women travel more often than men, why do travel guides treat us like babes in the woods? 

by Gabrielle Sierra

Any woman who announces her plans to travel alone will inevitably be faced with some form of the following helpful suggestions.

“Be careful.”

“Make sure to check in.”

“Watch who you give your information to.”

Don’t get Taken, or I’ll have to use my special set of skills.”

Friends and family, who know and trust your ability to live and exist in the world every day as an adult female, suddenly revert back to giving advice that should only be delivered to a child walking alone to school. Gone is the faith that you wouldn’t take an open drink from a stranger in your hometown let alone a town halfway across the globe. It is as though as soon as you pick up your backpack and a ticket you suddenly lose all ability to tell right from wrong, adventure from stupidity, bright street from dark seedy alley.

This impulse to give safety and planning tips to quivering helpless waifs is a strange one, especially because women are leading the way when it comes to travel. Eighty percent of all travel decisions are made by women, even when accompanied by a group or a big strong man. Additionally, according to research performed by the George Washington School of Business in 2016, nearly two-thirds of travelers are women. Closer to home, a 2014 study by found that 72 percent of American women are actively taking solo trips. And those numbers are only on the upswing, as seen by the 230 percent increase in the number of women-only travel companies created in the past six years.

What’s more is that these traveling women aren’t necessarily in their twenties or thirties: in the UK solo female travelers with an average age of 57 are currently dominating and driving the travel industry.

Yet this need to, above all else, highlight safety and security tips in women’s travel guides persists, often to the point of being downright insulting.

A listicle aimed at women traveling alone on a blog called Nomadic Matt opens with this passage: Traveling the world as a solo female? Worried something might happen? Nervous? Think your friends and family might be right about the world “being dangerous”? Not sure where to begin? Fear not. Many women travel the world alone and end up fine.”

(Well I am glad “many” of us end up fine. The rest are, obviously, fucked.)

Sadly, Nomadic Matt isn’t the only author offering adventurous women safety guides instead of destination guides.

A quick internet search brings up a plethora of similar results. Typing “woman traveling alone” into Google surfaces a never-ending scroll of content created to “help” women travel safely. Articles like  “Best Places for Women to Travel Solo” and “26 Best (And Safest) Places To Travel Alone For Females” and “46 Incredibly Useful Safety Tips For Women Traveling Alone” are a dime a dozen, offering advice and guidance not based on the most beautiful or unusual or friendly places, but the safest. These lists don’t focus on helping you select the best backpack to take for an eleven day journey, but instead on which tool is best when fighting off scary strangers.

“Mace (which you can’t bring on the plane, but you can put in a checked bag) or a whistle or a cat keychain all work for self defense, just in case,” advises Buzzfeed.

A quick Google search for “man traveling alone” is pretty much the opposite story.  Solo Traveler advises men to wear a condom when having sex with women abroad. Some lists advise solo males to keep an eye out for pickpockets, which seems to be the extent of safety and fear-based tips given to men.

(A fun aside: Googling “man traveling alone” also surfaces this piece by Elite Daily which is an actual guide on how to find yourself a man while traveling alone as a woman, and features the statement, “Don’t just bring your athleisure and sneakers… break out the flirty dresses and espadrilles while you still can. And if you’re planning a trip in winter, bring some cute booties and skirts with tights.”)

Other articles either aimed at men or written without a specific gender in mind offer general travel tips and list the exciting aspects of spending time by yourself, such as this piece by Smarter Travel that promises, “People who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Traveling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully.”

Where were these articles when I was searching for “woman traveling alone”? Five pages in? Six? How many bullet points of “dress modestly to minimize attention from men” and “wear a real or fake wedding ring, and carry a picture of a real or fake husband”, must I scroll through before I find the tip that tells me the best sneakers for hiking or the best city for off-the-grid art museums?  

Look, life can be scary, and women are not always safe. We have all seen Taken and Brokedown Palace. We have read the articles about women who disappear while traveling alone, or are assaulted or kidnapped. We know there are places we probably shouldn’t go, alone or otherwise, due to unstable governments, violence, trafficking, or high rates of terrorism. The world is not always easy or kind, and women in particular have to be aware of where we go and what we do. Safety tips are sometimes really smart and great, and it is nice to know that people probably have your best interests in mind when they provide that sort of content.

But leading women’s travel guides with fear-based tips is simply ignoring the obvious: women already know how to exist in the world. We know how to dodge catcalls and avoid shady men and extricate ourselves from shitty situations right here at home. Women already know what it is like to have a guy follow us down a block or attempt to lull us with drinks. We know.

Adventurous women who decide to travel alone or with a female friend or a mother or an aunt or a sister are already confident in their ability to exist without the “protection” of the familiar. Check the stats buddy; leading with the antiquated notion that we are helpless is not recognizing our dominance in the world of travel. The underlying message of every, “Be careful walking into your hotel room” is “Are you sure you want to do this?”, and the answer is a resounding, “Yes.”

Yes, yes we do. We considered the safety aspect within the first few minutes of this decision, and have come to the conclusion that we are capable of undertaking this journey. So thank you for asking.

It is time for the travel journalism industry to catch up to the times, and cater to their prime market. So next time instead of a sweet tip warning about stranger danger, just let us know where to get the best cheese, tour the most incredible architecture, or join the best mountain climbing tour. We can take it from there.

15 Things That Might Just Happen When the L Train Shuts Down

The L is the quickest way from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Here are some prophecies for what might happen on that first fateful day.

By Frida Oskarsdottir

In New York, the subway falls under the umbrella of things people are as quick to defend to outsiders as they are to deride to their fellow citymen, like cash-only everything, or muggings. Brief commutes are heralded; half empty rush hour trains are discussed in the hushed tone usually reserved for urban legends. We console each other about our missed appointments, and the cramped compartments wherein people refuse to heed the conductor’s pleas to please, stand clear of the closing doors. 

New York City’s transit system is a clusterfuck the most complex in the world, with its twenty four subway lines spanning 659 miles of track, and that’s without the 5700 buses. So many moving parts and an average of 5.7 million riders each day make it a struggle for the city to find the stressors that most need addressing to avoid disaster and to keep commuters happy, or whatever the word is for when you don’t see a penis on the train.

One teeny-tiny wrench in the already strained system is the apocalyptic 15-month shutdown of the L train slated to begin April 2019. The L is the quickest way from Brooklyn to Manhattan and the lifeblood of 400,000 daily riders. So far, the MTA’s plan for mitigating the impact of the shutdown has been met with audible groans skepticism and continued uncertainty for how its policies will play out. The countdown clock has officially begun, so here are some prophecies for what might happen on that first fateful day.

1. New Yorkers will recognize they’re all in this together, and face the challenges of the shutdown with respect and dignity for their fellow commuters.

2. Just kidding – you will get hit by a train after a wave of rerouted passengers becomes a rat king-esque cluster of intertwined arms and legs, moving as one, squirming until it shoves you off the platform.

3. A new app will help you calculate how many items on your person you would have to barter in order to take a the newly surcharged Lyft home instead of waiting six hours for the train at 1 a.m.

4. Private vehicles may see serious restrictions from the city, following in the footsteps of other progressive metropoles. As a result, flowers will spring forward through the pavement, lush green will overcome the concrete jungle. Man and beast will once again live in harmony.

5. You will get hit by a car because someone’s grandma who has been taking the L train like a champion for the last 20 years had to renew her license to make it to her craft circle. But don’t worry, it will have more than 3 riders in thanks to the HOV3 requirement.

6. The soar in Lyft Line and Uber Pool prices will make way for new ride-sharing experiences – think PiggyBack and WheelBarrow. These will also double as dating apps.

7. You’ll save money by cancelling your gym membership – who needs it with all the extra steps it takes to walk over the Williamsburg Bridge? Bonus: the angrier you are, the faster you’ll go!

8. Despite the fact that bus ridership in New York City has decreased by over 100 million rides over the past eight years and is the slowest out of all big cities in the nation, everyone will seamlessly switch to buses and for sure make it to work on time during rush hour.

9. You will get hit by a bus.

10. Anyone remember this article about a woman in San Francisco who wakes up at 2:15 am to get to work by 7:00 am? Don’t worry if not, you’ll have time to read it again while you’re tucking yourself in at 5:00 pm.

11. The new additional cars on the G train, until now the stumpiest of all lines, will serve as makeshift studio apartments for those who have had to sell their billion dollar Williamsburg properties at a loss.

12. On April 1st, 2019, 1-2% of The Rerouted will take the form of cyclists, removing the tags from their spandex and strapping on their shiny new helmets, triumphant in newfound liberty and pursuit of a fun and exhilarating personal commute since the city’s plan proposes a two-way protected crosstown bike lane on 13th Street, the first in Manhattan.

13. You will get hit by a bike, because all of a sudden there are thousands of uneasy bikers on Manhattan’s only crosstown two-way protected bike lane.

14. #EastRivering will trend when a desperate workforce population braves a swim in the murky green waters rather than sit on the stopped J train for another second.

15. Everything will be OK because New York is the greatest fuckin’ city on Earth and I’m walkin’ here alright???

Thinking of Riding Really (Really) Far on Your Bike? Read This Zine!

If you’ve ever thought of trading in stale AC and cramping legs for fresh air, maybe bike-touring is for you.

by Frida Oskarsdottir

The first thought that comes to mind when someone says “cross-country road trip” is probably not a bicycle. But if you’ve ever thought of trading in stale AC and cramping legs for fresh air…and cramping legs, maybe bike-touring is for you. For stories from all types of people embarking on the open road with nothing but what’s strapped to their backs and in their panniers, check out “Must Be Nice,” a zine compiled by Jessica Garcia, a social worker and jack of all trades living in the Pacific Northwest. Contributions include funny stories about flat tires and one-horse towns and real advice for newbies. Among the hot tips for someone considering his or her first bike tour: “Don’t overthink it. Just go.”

For your own copy, email



In the Changing World of Entertainment, Minorities are Finally on Their Way to the Top

The past few years have been phenomenal for storytelling by and for people of color.

By Saira Khan

The past few years have been promising for storytelling by and for people of color. On Sunday, at the Golden Globes, Sterling K. Brown became first black actor to win for leading performance in a TV drama, Aziz Ansari became the first Asian male actor to win best leading performance in a TV comedy, and Oprah Winfrey became the first black woman to receive Cecil B. DeMille Award. This recognition comes on the heels of last year’s awards season when at the Emmys, Lena Waithe made history by becoming the first black woman to win for Comedy Writing, Donald Glover became first black person to win the best-directing comedy award, and Riz Ahmed became the first male South Asian actor to win the outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie Emmy.

It’s hard to imagine that it was only three short years ago that an alleged e-mail exchange between Sony Pictures’s co-chair Amy Pascal and film producer Scott Rudin was leaked to the public:  

“What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast,” Pascal wrote to Rudin.

“Would he like to finance some movies,” Rudin replied.

“I doubt it,” responded Pascal. “Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” she added,

“Or the butler. Or think like a man,” Pascal continued.

“Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart,” Rudin answered.

Lest you have forgotten, our president at the time was Barack Obama and all of the films Pascal and Rudin mentioned were films with black characters. The e-mail hack (which may or may not have been orchestrated by North Korea) also told us that Sony executives thought Denzel Washington wasn’t famous enough to sell tickets in a lead role and that Angelina Jolie was “difficult.”

What’s striking about this exchange (aside from the blatant racism) is that these are the people who decide which films get made and which ones don’t; which stories get told and which ones are left out. These are the people who, in the past, decided that the only stories about black people worth telling were those of black pain and suffering, and that all Asian characters should have accents (something that Aziz Ansari brilliantly addressed in the “Indians on TV” episode of “Master of None.”) These are the people who hired white writers to create these roles. These are the people who thought no one would be interested in paying to watch a film about the real lives of people of color. But, maybe, times have changed.

Viola Davis at the 2015 Emmys

“You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” Viola Davis said in 2015, after winning an Emmy for her performance in the show “How to Get Away With Murder.” For decades, white executives and writers denied people of color the chance to win such awards simply because they didn’t allow roles like the ones Davis won for to exist. The Internet has helped usher us into a time when we don’t need those white executives to give us those opportunities, because we can create them for ourselves. Gone are the days when studio heads and producers like Pascal and Rudin decided, based solely on their perceptions of people of color, whether our stories would be told.

In 2011, a black woman wrote a role for herself, based on her life, and created a web series, called “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” on YouTube. By 2012, the episode had 1.2 million views. She went on to raise $44,000 for the show through Kickstarter and kept at it. That woman now has a hit TV show on HBO and is currently working on another one with the network. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe this year. Yes, that woman is Issa Rae.

If it wasn’t for platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., that have allowed people of color to create their own opportunities, would “Insecure” exist?

I’m a South Asian woman from Pakistan. It’s hard to explain what it feels like to be forced to reckon with that fact that you’ve spent your entire life watching, and tacitly accepting, the white-washed stories that Hollywood thought we wanted to hear. Watching actors like Riz Ahmed, Aziz Ansari, Kumail Nanjiani, Hasan Minhaj, and now, Fatimah Asghar (who is currently developing a TV show with Sam Bailey for HBO, based on their web series “Brown Girls.”) tell stories that I understand and can relate to, on a deeper, cultural level, was, at first, jarring and emotional–after a lifetime of being ignored on television, suddenly my people are out here winning awards for playing roles that are actually familiar to me. Suddenly, people who look like me are changing the entertainment landscape. With this new-found representation comes much-needed understanding. For far too long South Asians have been delegated to playing the shopkeeper with an accent or the untrustworthy, is he-or-isn’t-he a terrorist on TV.

We no longer need white executives in the entertainment industry to give us opportunities, instead they need us. Because while those same executives hold the keys to the kingdom, we have the numbers. They can no longer deny the power of storytelling by people of color. We, on the other hand, can go ahead and build our own shit now, without their support and money. It’s clear that the entertainment industry has taken note of this, which is why we have films like “Girls Trip,” “Coco,” “Get Out,” and “Black Panther” and televisions shows like “Atlanta,” “This Is Us,” and “Black-ish.”

By approximately 2020, the Census Bureau says that more than half of the United States’ population will be made up of minority children–which would, of course, no longer make us minorities. With this in mind, it’s preposterous that it took 96 years for a black man to win a Golden Globe for a  leading performance in a TV drama. We’ve made much progress in that past few years in terms of equal representation on television and film, but we still have a long way to go. I, for one, will not be satisfied until every single movie and television show has a substantial character of color. It’s not good enough anymore to have films with all-white casts or to throw minorities into supporting roles just for show. If Hollywood is unable to accept that minorities are woven into every fiber of this nation, then I’m more than willing to change the channel.

We, Too: A Callout on Harassment

We asked you to share your stories of sexual harassment and assault with us. Here they are.

If you’ve experienced the power dynamics inherent in most workplaces and in our society at large, then the allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Harvey Weinstein may come as no surprise. Our bodies have always been subjected to the whims of men at the top. They’ve also been subjected to the whims of men at the bottom and anywhere in between — a stranger exposing himself to you on the street, your creepy uncle, your friends, your clients, your colleagues, your lovers, your mentors. We asked you to share your stories with us. Here they are.

About a year or so ago man exposed himself to me and several other women across a subway platform. Emboldened and encouraged by the female rage around me, I went upstairs to alert the police. I relayed my story to the officer on duty and was told that there was nothing he could do since he couldn’t leave his post. He asked if the flasher was being aggressive and said he would file a report. I returned back to the platform to inform the rest of the women around me, and we stood there helplessly while the flasher continued exposing himself. Eventually our train came and we got on, leaving him behind to do this to the next group of women. I felt shame in this moment, because I thought I did what I was supposed to do, that I alerted who I was supposed to. I felt ashamed for how briefly empowered I felt representing the women on that platform, and how helpless I felt returning to them empty-handed.

I once let a boy I never met grope me on a bus. I was young, maybe junior high school age. I was so mixed with emotions – I wanted to gain sexual experience like many of the girls around me (at this point I had never even been kissed) but simultaneously I knew this was not the way it should happen. I eventually stopped him and he was angry and I apologized. He changed his seat. The feelings of shame stayed with me for at least another year or so, until I realized that I had nothing to be sorry for. I don’t think I even knew his name.

While at my sister in laws house helping care for her 3 children while she recovered upstairs from having their 4th child that morning, my brother in law grabs my ass and finds every excuse to rub his crotch against me. When I told him to please stop and reminded him that his wife was upstairs recovering from having a 10lb baby, he tells me to shut up and that I “like it”. I tell him no forcibly again and try to keep myself surrounded by my nieces and nephews or make excuses to be near my sil. Later, when we took the children out to dinner so their mom could rest, he moves my nephew aside to sit next to me. Then while the children are looking at their menus and are distracted, he grabs my hand and forces me to touch his hard penis through his pants and whispers to me that he’s hard for me and his pants are wet with precum and that he fantasizes about me. I couldn’t leave without causing a scene and didn’t have my car with me. My relationship with my nieces and nephews that I love is no longer close since I try to avoid all contact with their sleazy dad. I miss them.

I’d been hooking up with a male friend for a few months. It was very “when we’re both in the mood” and only happened every so often. One night, we went out and partied with friends. We came back to sleep on our friend’s couch. We were both really drunk. I was talking to someone new, and I didn’t want to hook up with my friend because I wasn’t feeling it anymore; I wanted to focus on the possible relationship I was building. He was drunk and kept pushing it. I was drunk and got tired of saying no over and over. I left him do stuff to me and I came, then we went to bed. I’ve never felt grosser about something, and I felt guilty and as though I had no right to complain since it was one sided toward me. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay. I never told anyone. I can’t tell my husband. So the story had just existed inside me. I am sharing it here in case it can help someone. Remember: It can be a friend you would have willingly hooked up with another time. In any situation, no means no. Drunk or sober. Friend or stranger. That word is enough.

I used to work at a school where I would respond to behavioral crises. Part of my job was to make sure all of the students got on and off their buses safely and were all accounted for. Several bus drivers would make frequent comments about how “sexy” I was, how much they enjoyed watching me, and one even told me that I “needed to be spanked”. I didn’t want to report any of this to my boss, because he had once let it slip that he had passed me over for a promotion before because I was a woman. I was afraid that he would feel justified for discriminating against me, because this wouldn’t have happened to a man. (And if you’re thinking that I should have gone to HR with my boss’s comment…..our HR representative had made flirtatious comments to me and several other female colleagues and had actually sexually harassed a woman who used to work there. Didn’t seem like a great source of support for issues facing women).

When I was in high school I had a boyfriend who clearly valued the sexual part of our relationship above all other aspects. I considered it normal; we were hormonal, sexually active high schoolers and he was the guy, the guy is always hornier than the girl, right? I really cared about him as a person and enjoyed being in a relationship, so I’d brush it off when all I wanted to do was cuddle and watch a movie but every five minutes I’d have to push his hands away from creeping up my shirt or down my pants. First it was laughingly, then more exasperatedly, but no matter what he persisted. Usually I’d give in and we’d fool around – he was my boyfriend, after all. Sometimes I wouldn’t and he’d get upset about it, the implication always being that it was owed as part of the pact of our being “boyfriend-girlfriend”. I fear that this is still typical, that we teach ourselves and our daughters that they owe something to men. It took many years for me to learn that we don’t.

I compartmentalize these moments so well that at first I thought I didn’t have any Weinstein-like stories to share. The worst has not yet happened to me. I’ve never been raped. But I’ve been made to feel unsafe. When I worked late night shifts, I would choose work shoes based on how well I could run in them to outpace men who followed me home from the subway. After one bad OkCupid date ended up with me reading up on state stalking laws, I bought mace. When dates invite me over for the first time, I remember their floor plans for exit strategies. These are all terribly ordinary calculations women walking home alone at night have to make. I barely realize I’m calculating the equation of how to have fun and live life without getting killed by a man over it, but it’s math I solve for constantly.

Most recently, I had someone I barely knew expose nudes of mine without my consent or knowledge. She gained access to my nudes by violating the rules of a sex pos group that’s full of survivors of assault (myself included), and she violated the trust of that group by exposing me to her friends at a bar, for fun, all while body shaming me. A friend of mine who was there when this happened told me what happened almost immediately, and I flipped out.

There was blowback, I was slut-shamed, threatened with a lawsuit for libel (typical attempt by an abuser to silence a victim), and half assed apologies were sent my way. Right now, I’m just furious. Furious because all of these “allies” I know are posting #metoo who KNOW what she did, yet they’re still vocal friends with her and the people complicit in my exposure. I feel fucking violated, and it’s traumatic seeing the constant reminder of what happened when I go online. It’s almost morbidly hilarious to me, making me feel like simultaneously laughing and crying.

How can these people talk such a big game about allyship and feminism and STILL be friends with this person, knowing what happened? It’s just so funny. It’s so goddamn easy to to drag someone that you don’t know for something like this, but then it’s your friend or best bud, the person you’re probably MOST responsible for holding accountable outside of family, and suddenly you’re making excuses for them. Hold your friends accountable. Don’t make posts about fake allies when you’re one yourself. Sorry if this is incoherent. I’m just disgusted out of my fucking mind right now.

I was a freshmen in college when I met a boy through my roommate’s boyfriend. We went out a couple times and one night I brought him back to my place. We were on the couch in the living and I was *very* clear that I only wanted to make out. As we were making out he started talking about wanting to have sex. I said absolutely. I think he thought I was a virgin because he started saying “don’t be scared, it won’t hurt.” I kept saying no. At this point he was on top of my and had me pinned down on the couch. As I was saying no and he was telling me not to be “scared,” he started undoing his belt buckle. I tried to push him off of me but I wasn’t strong enough. At that very moment, my roommate walked into our apartment with her boyfriend. Jose immediately got off of me and sat up straight. I made him leave. We never talked or hung out again. The most fucked up part of all of this is that while I was afraid in the moment it was happening, I laughingly brushed off the whole incident as “boys will be boys.” It wasn’t until years later that I not only remember what happened, but also realized how close I had been to being raped.

My ex decided to Photoshop me into nude pictures and send them to my family and friends and posted them online in an all male group. It has been a rocky road since then, i am blessed to have supportive parents and friends but the effect it has on my mind is irreparable.

I was abused by my mother’s father as a child. I didn’t say no because I was raised knowing you have to respect your elders…that good girls don’t disrespect their elders and do as they are told. Even though in my gut I knew what was happening was wrong – I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I finally turned to a guidance counselor at school. I have little to no memory of the few years immediately after that time in my life…its just a blank spot in my memory. In the days and years since I first spoke up, it was made clear to me that I needed to protect my secret – and my abuser – from others finding out. Who would want to marry me if they knew? From a young age, I learned people would judge me before they would judge my abuser.

On a trip overseas, I was shopping for jeans at the mall with my cousin. We went into a store and the shopkeeper asked me my size. I didn’t know what my size would be, so he said he would measure my waist. As he wrapped the tape measure around my waist his hands “jumped up” to caress my breasts. I was 14. I was so shocked and embarrassed, my cousin and I made eye contact and neither of us knew what to do. I paid for the jeans and we quickly left. I never stood up for myself. I didn’t know how to.

On the night of my college graduation, my alcoholic ex got extremely inebriated, as he often did. We were on the dance floor. As we were dancing, he kept getting more and more aggressive, trying to shove his hands up my dress. He assaulted me on the dance floor of the club we were at with his friends. No one stopped him. I’m sure they saw me trying to get him off of me. No one intervened.

A Cryin’ Shame

Why are tears a symbol of weakness?

by Gabrielle Sierra

You are frustrated during an argument and suddenly find yourself crying. Now you feel an added layer of emotion: shame. You are angry at your body for betraying your inner angst and furious with yourself for looking fragile. All the while a male counterpart is awkwardly attempting to console you and just making the whole thing worse.


We have all been there time and time again. Because guess what? Women cry more than men. In fact, according to science we cry a lot more than men. In the book Why Only Humans Weep, scientist Ad Vingerhoets writes that women cry an average of 30 to 64 times a year, while men cry about 6 to 17 times a year. That is a big difference, and one that would seemingly imply that it isn’t super out of the ordinary to see a woman shed a tear or two.

So if we all do it, why do we still feel like there is a shame in crying? The answer is undeniably built into our social interactions from a very young age.

As children we are taught to associate crying with weakness and the need for help. Babies cry when they are uncomfortable or hungry: basic needs that cannot be satisfied without help from adults. As we get older we learn to satiate our own needs; we get water when we are thirsty, we wear a coat if we are cold. Crying becomes something that is seen as an option, rather than an impulse, and the people we see crying in films and on television are women. Women in distress, women who have been scorned, women who are afraid.

As a result we associate not crying with strength and masculinity. People who cry a lot are told to “man-up” and those who show fear or distress are told to have some “balls.” This generalization stretches so far that it goes in the opposite direction as well; women or girls who don’t cry at sad films or during emotional life moments are often deemed to be cold or robotic..


Ultimately it is a very confusing message to receive from a very young age. We are expected to cry, but when we do cry we are deemed to be weak. We are expected to be the emotional ones in relationships, yet expected to control these same emotions at work, the place where we spend a large portion of our days.

Most of all it is confusing and frustrating to have to defy the biological factors that cause women to cry more often than men.

One of these biological elements is a pretty simple one; the size and depth of female tear ducts. Multiple studies have shown that women’s tear ducts are actually shorter and shallower than men’s tear ducts, and are therefore more likely to overflow. This would mean that although men may well up, the chances of them actually showing any tears are smaller.

And as with many of our body-related woes, we can also thank our hormones. Dr. Jodi J. De Luca, a licensed clinical psychologist whose research focuses on emotion, behavior, and relationships, says that since our female bodies are “genetically programmed to give life,” we are chock full of extra hormones. Hormones men do not have.  

“These hormones also affect our thought, emotion, and behavior,” says De Luca. “So, whether we like it or accept it or not, many women would report that they are more emotionally vulnerable – and cry more – for a certain period of time before their period.”

(Not to mention during your period, or while pregnant or going through menopause.)

Testosterone, on the other hand, may actually inhibit crying, giving men the chance to feel sadness or frustration but not have it manifest itself in large drops rolling down their cheeks. In this way men can sidestep being called “emotional”.  


In the end the only way our feelings of shame associated with crying will change is when we see tears as a normal biological function. Much like someone sweating when they get nervous or shaking when they are afraid, crying is something normal and (for the most part) healthy.

So next time you run to cry in a bathroom stall at work, or fight back tears during an emotional argument with a coworker, consider the upside of female tears: women feel more comfortable crying in front of friends and loved ones, an intimacy and experience most men do not share. Additionally, a “good cry” can not only be therapeutic and cathartic, but it can be healthy. Lastly, more tears for frustration or sadness also means more tears for joy, and crying because you are happy is one of the best feelings.

Most importantly of all, consider the power of your tears and attempt to harness this embarrassment for good. As our human compass Tina Fey wrote in her book Bossypants, “Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”