The Recommender: Jason F*#%ing Feifer

The three best things on the Internet each week, as recommended by Fast Company team members.

Name: Jason Feifer
Role at Fast Company: Senior editor, resident open-office cynic. Jason is also the creative genius behind the somewhat controversial yet widely acclaimed Selfies At Funerals Tumblr. Maybe you've heard of it?
Twitter: @heyfeifer
Titillating fact: Jason has no sense of smell, which means he can’t taste flavors either. “Your tongue only picks up the basics--sweet, salty, sour, bitter. When you eat, odor molecules from your food go to the back of your throat and then up, and are read by your olfactory nerves, the things that enable you to smell. That’s broken for me, so chocolate is just sweet, not chocolate. It’s fine, really. I’m not bothered. I’ve never known anything else. And I can’t smell farts, so that’s awesome. Though my poor wife always has to smell the milk to tell me if it’s gone bad.”

Things he’s loving:

1. The Case for Profanity
A few years ago, one Texas politician said something unkind to another, and the New York Times reported that he was “using a PG-rated expletive.” What was this low-level phrase that, though rated equal to The Lego Movie, was still strong enough to rock our delicate sensibilities? I looked it up: It was “screw you.” This kind of moralizing obfuscation drives me nuts; the job of newspapers and magazines (and I include this one here as well, which should feel free to run the headline in this story without silly symbols) is to report on the world as it happens, not to filter and obscure, or decide what readers are mature enough to hear. I said so on a popular journalism site at the time, and the Times’ national editor replied that he’d rather get an upset letter from me than from his mom. Little-known fact: In its earlier years, the New York Times had to be home by 10:30 or else.

So I was quite delighted this week when the Times ran this wonderful piece arguing for profanity in the paper. Sure, it didn’t actually contain profanity--that still isn’t permitted--but at least it made the case. “Even when certain words are necessary to the understanding of a story,” wrote this wise man, the president of the American Dialect Society and the author of a book called The F-Word, “the media frequently resort to euphemisms or coy acrobatics that make stories read as if they were time capsules written decades ago, forcing us all into wink-wink-nudge-nudge territory.” Yes. Exactly. Suck it up, mom.

2. Walt Frazier says “Dishing and Swishing” 1.14 times per Knicks game
Nate Silver may argue for the serious, world-changing nature of data journalism, but I’m still a sucker for good ol’ fashioned counting stuff because it’s funny. That’s why I loved the work of Bloomberg Sports writer Chi Nwogu, who watched every Knicks game this season and took a tally of all the silly rhymes from Knicks broadcast commentator (and legend) Walt “Clyde” Frazier. How often does Frazier go to his playbook of “Clydeism” rhymes--stuff like “moving and grooving” and “slicing and dicing”? The most per game was 25, against the Miami Heat in February. Toward the top of the most-used list: “posting and toasting.” (.70 times per game.) The bottom, at .20 times per game, is a tie between “draining and paining,” “hustling and muscling,” and “fire and desire.” What can we do with that information? Probably nothing. And that’s what makes it great.

3. The Strangest Interview Ever
The video opens on a contemplative blonde woman looking down. Then, up. Then across at something. Then she takes a deep, nervous breath, looks down again, and then over. No, wait, she isn’t looking at something; it’s someone. This feels like the beginning of every indie movie ever made--the character has either just had a life-changing moment, or is about to initiate one with the next words they say. She looks down again. The tension grows. There’s an intake of breath. And then, finally, she opens her mouth to reveal her raison d’etre, and this is what she says: “Can you tell me about your new album, Cupid Deluxe?”

I watched this sequence probably 20 times this week, and laughed each time. It’s the beginning of an interview with an artist called Blood Orange. If you can make it past these first glorious 10 seconds, you’ll find all sorts of equal weirdness ahead: They’ve overdubbed the English-speaking artist in English, she asks questions like “Obviously you’re black--can you talk about that?” and then there’s some jamming out at the end. It took me a while to fully comprehend its purpose. At first I wondered if it was just an extremely poorly produced promotional video. But I’ve now decided it’s a parody. And so to its creators, I say: Bravo. Sigh. Look down. Bravo.

[Image: Flickr user Wendy]

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