It’s August, and if you’ve got kids in elementary school, chances are you’re combing the local paper each day for news of classroom assignments. It’s an annual ritual as fraught with anxiety as the visit to Santa: spreading the paper out on the kitchen table, scanning the columns of small type, finding your kid’s grade, searching in the alphabetized lists for your last name … and then, bam! Either nirvana (“Oh, thank God, you’ve got Ms. Conklin”) or despair (“Nooooooo! Not Mrs. Constantine! Anyone but Mrs. Constantine!”). And then, resigned to your — and your child’s — fate, you pour another cup of coffee and call your best friend to kvell or kvetch, depending on the circumstance.
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First it was the women of Penn in the New York Times, explaining that college’s hookup culture is really great because they don’t have time to search out meaningful relationships at this point in their lives because they’re way too busy building their résumés, even though they have to drink to have sex with the guys they’re having sex with because if they were straight they’d never have meaningless sex with guys they don’t even like.
Then last week it was the ladies of Princeton, who, perhaps in an attempt to interfere with sales of “Princeton Mom” Susan Patton’s prospective advice book, are flocking in droves to join the infamous Tiger Inn, the “frattiest and hardest-drinking of Princeeton-University’s 11 eating clubs,” according to this piece in the Atlantic by Princeton student Caroline Kitchener.
Initiation to Tiger Inn includes such co-ed fun as swallowing live goldfish and having dog food crammed into your mouth, Kitchener says, and none of the hundreds of comments on her piece dispute that. Instead, much like the comments on the New York Times piece (except for the ones by whiny Penn women saying the author of the piece got it all wrong), they say, either approvingly or disapprovingly, that these are the logical fruits of feminism. Which is bull.
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When you were making your vacation plans for this summer, did the destinations you considered include Canton, Ohio? Cooperstown, New York? Charlotte, North Carolina? I’ll bet you money they didn’t. Those towns are the homes, respectively, of the NFL, MLB and NASCAR halls of fame, and things are getting lonely there.
According to a story in last week’s Wall Street Journal, attendance at the halls has been dropping precipitously over the past few decades — except at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which only opened in 2010. Predictions then were it would draw 800,000 visitors a year to lovely Charlotte. The WSJ says it opened with 278,000 attendees, which last year dwindled to 184,000. The Hockey Hall of Fame, in Toronto, had 500,000 visitors a year in 1980; today, it’s fewer than 300,000 annually. You may be tempted to think museum attendance generally is down. It’s not. Sixty-one percent of museums surveyed by the American Alliance of Museums said their attendance rose in 2011, compared to 57 percent in 2009. We seem to be happy to go see art, or dino skeletons, or First Ladies’ dresses. It’s sports memorabilia we no longer care about. Read more »
University of Oklahoma right-handed pitching ace Jonathan Gray, one of the top three draft-eligible players in the country, made headlines last month when he tested positive for the ADHD drug Adderall, for which he didn’t have a prescription. Maybe he was just getting ready for the big leagues. In a commentary in yesterday’s Inquirer, Bob Ford noted that the MLB authorized 116 exemptions for Adderall in 2012. That’s 10 percent of the players on the league’s rosters — a rate twice that of ADHD in the general adult population. Ford also notes that when the current drug-testing regimen went into effect in 2006, there were 28 Adderall exemptions. The following season, that number rose above 100, where it has remained ever since.
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Sex on local college campuses sure is getting complicated. First a bunch of women at Swarthmore College decided administrators there weren’t taking sexual assaults on their campus seriously enough, so they filed a Title IX complaint against them, followed shortly by a second complaint. Then lightning wiped out Swarthmore’s Women’s Resource Center. Then this weekend, we find out the New York Times spent a year hounding women at the University of Pennsylvania and determined definitively that said women are absolutely not sure about this whole get-drunk-and-hook-up-with-guys-you-can’t-stand-when-you’re-sober thing. (In case you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, this piece I wrote a couple years back outlines the forces that have aligned to create the Title IX violation college-campus frenzy, including an incredibly zealous (I’m being polite there) Main Line attorney who’s making a fortune off the whole to-do.) Read more »
The death knell of the era of the unpaid internship continued tolling today, courtesy again of a couple of lowly interns themselves. Following on the heels of the Fox Searchlight unpaid internship case, Jesse Moore and Monet Eliastam have filed a $5 million class-action lawsuit against NBCUniversal (owned by Comcast Corp.). The interns, who worked at Saturday Night Live and MSNBC, claim that they did everything from processing petty cash to making travel arrangements for higher-ups — jobs that seem not to fit into the six-item list of criteria for unpaid internships. The pair worked at least 24 hours a week, and now are seeking compensation for their work. NBCUniversal, meanwhile, began paying interns earlier this year, though they refused to comment on the current litigation. Perhaps one day, though, kids can get paid without having to sue first. [Philly.com]
One of the best parts of being a writer is that the job lets you be nosy professionally. If I’m curious what all those new buildings are going up in West Philly, I can call the president of Penn or Drexel and say: “Hi, this is Sandy Hingston from Philly Mag. Um — what are all those new buildings you’re putting up?” If I’m wondering what Marjorie Margolies, the Penn prof who’s running for the U.S. Senate, is like, I can ring her up and get an interview. If I want to know why so many American kids are taking ADHD drugs, I can call a Penn neuroscientist, like Anjan Chatterjee, and say: “What exactly is the deal with ADHD drugs?”
But sometimes, hearing somebody else explain something isn’t enough.
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If you were to come into the Philly Mag offices today, you’d find that the editorial side of things is lousy with interns. They sit by the art department, clustered together like workhorses in a stable, cranking out the fact-checking of endless lists. Virtually the entire day, depending on the magazine content that month, you can hear our intrepid interns clacking away at their keyboards and phone pads, pressing some poor schlub we interviewed about whether their name is, indeed, spelled that way or some other.
As is common across the media and entertainment industries, these wide-eyed young kids—each one hopeful for a future employment opportunity—will be paid in experience. Which, apparently, is just as good as money—that is, until you try to pay your rent that month with the things you learned while fact-checking. The exchange rates don’t quite match up to the landlord. (Believe me, I’ve tried.)
Fortunately, though, this modern-day indentured servitude looks like it’s drawing to a close. And as someone with three unpaid internships under his belt (and one paid), the end can’t come fast enough. Read more »
Oh, look. The controversy of unpaid internships has come up again, with a federal judge ruling against Fox Searchlight in a case filed by unpaid interns who worked on the movie Black Swan. The Atlantic speculates that the “court ruling could end unpaid internships for good,” and Time has declared that it’s “the beginning of the end of unpaid internships.”
Some unpaid interns have been complaining about unpaid internships for as long as unpaid internships have existed. And as a former unpaid intern, I am here to tell you that they need to shut up. Read more »