Cluster Joining West Greenpoint’s homewares
district are vintage-focused Copper+Plaid and family-run Burson & Reynolds.
(Photo: Courtesy of the vendors)
1. Homecoming: Romy Northover macchiato mugs with liquid 22-karat gold ($62); vases made with excavated clay (from $85). 107 Franklin St. 2. From the Source: Chairs made of recycled oil drums ($325); teak open-storage
side tables ($375). 69 West St. 3. Adaptations NY: Embroidered Moroccan poufs ($275); mid-century dressers ($695). 107 Franklin St. 4. Home of the Brave: Ceramic French presses ($120); custom-made black flag
blankets ($165). 146 Franklin St. 5. Copper+Plaid: Vintage caribou antlers ($575); early-1900s boar-bristle shoe-shine brush ($45). 655 Manhattan Ave. 6. Burson & Reynolds: Cast-iron scary rabbit bottle openers ($10); Kerry Cassill pillowcases ($76). 649 Manhattan Ave.
2×2: Festive Carving Knives Slice that turkey with flair.
(Photo: Courtesy of the vendors)
Full Color: Pure Komachi 2 slicing knife, $11 at amazon.com. Half Color: Zyliss carving knife, $14 at zylissusa.com.
(Photo: Courtesy of the vendors)
Full Color: Ivo Virtu chef’s knife,
$130 at williams-sonoma.com. Half Color: Gyuto knife,
$117 at the Brooklyn Kitchen (100 Frost St., Williamsburg).
Athleisure Tyler Haney, whose start-up
Outdoor Voices sells minimalist hoodies and sweat-wicking slouchy pants,
just opened a shop at 199 Lafayette Street.
We’ve been making our
soft tees ($65)
and textured compression-fabric leggings ($95) since 2013, when athleisure was still a new term. But we could tell this was something people really wanted, and now we’ve raised $7 million in Series A funding and designed our first New York store to reflect all of the different things you can do in these clothes. We have a modular stack of foam mats and 3-D shapes, so you can feel how you bend and stretch in each item. We also see the space as a starting point for activitywe organize yoga classes and hiking meet-ups, so you can wear our new merino-wool jogging pants ($135) there. Or to brunch in
Ask a Guru Lodro Rinzler is the chief spiritual officer at MNDFL, the city’s first walk-in meditation studio (10 E. 8th St.).
So this is like SoulCycle for meditating?Yes. Most meditation centers have a minimum two-hour commitment; our sessions are 30 minutes. We’ve assembled a team of the best meditation teachers from all different traditions, and we offer a wide variety of classes: If you can’t sleep, there’s MNDFL sleep, where you’ll take deep breaths to help decompress and relax your body. If you’re feeling low-energy, you could take MNDFL energy, where there will be a lot of quick inhalations and exhalations. The last few minutes are always question-and-answer time for everyone who might have tried meditation through an app and wondered, say, if it’s normal to start seeing colors.
Side by Side Two glamorous French brands arrive just in time for winter.
(Photo: Courtesy of the vendors)
Vanessa Seward 267 W. 4th St. Open through early December History: This summer, after stints at Azzaro and A.P.C., Seward presented her first eponymous women’s collection. Store: A pop-up occupying a quarter of the A.P.C. store, in the inky blue accents of her Paris store, with dark denim and shearlings. Celebrity Pick: ’70s-style Abaca sheepskin shearling coat ($3,675), purchased by Katie Holmes on
the shop’s opening day.
Yves Salomon 786 Madison Ave. Opens November 18 History: In 1910, Gregory Salomon entered the fur trade. Now his great-grandson Thomas is opening the brand’s first retail spaces. Store: Seven hundred square feet, with marble shelving and brass accents holding men’s, women’s, and kids’ fur-accented outerwear. Celebrity Pick:Rihanna wears the rabbit-and-coyote-fur-lined army parka (from $1,950), using the oversize drawstring hood to avoid paparazzi.
(Photo: Courtesy of the vendor)
Top Five On November 19, the modernist Italian furniture brand Arper (476 Broadway) will open its first East Coast showroom. Here, CEO Claudio Feltrin picks his favorite self-balancing chairs and casual ottomans.
The Kinesit chair (from $1,183) has a self-balancing mechanism hidden in its seat that adjusts the tension of the chair based on the user’s weight.
(Photo: Courtesy of the vendor)
I love the architect Lina Bo Bardi; when I discovered drawings of this bowl chair ($5,670) that she never produced, I manufactured a limited series of 500.
(Photo: Courtesy of the vendor)
This Ply table (from $656) looks so simple but is actually very difficult to produce because it’s a single piece of curved wood with three legs.
(Photo: Courtesy of the vendor)
Pix (from $734) is our collection of casual ottomans, and each one comes in over 100 fabrics. It’s made out of a strong foam, so it’s soft, but it won’t sink if you sit on it.
(Photo: Courtesy of the vendor)
The Parentesit (from $1,383) is a big, beautiful wall-mounted speaker that can also be customized with LED lights.
On January 24, at five in the morning after his final day at the Washington Post, Ezra Klein awoke in his condo in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood; sent out his final Wonkbook, the daily policy briefing e-mailed to more than 40,000 subscribers; and flew to California to visit UCLA, his alma mater. It was a Friday, and that evening, a few hundred students had gathered in a campus ballroom to watch two seers of the digital future chat about disruption. Klein was there at the invitation of Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, who was touring college campuses to promote his up-with-innovators book, Without Their Permission.
The event had a whiff of Palo Alto tent revival. As students took their seats, speakers blared EDM. Ohanian took the stage and began a comic spiel that was part entrepreneurial exhortation—the word awesome got heavy rotation—and part crowd-pleasing appeal to generational self-regard. He spoke of “the incumbents” (Silicon Valley–speak for Those to Be Overthrown) and, affecting the Batman villain Bane’s camp baritone, said, “They merely adopted the Internet. We were born in it. Molded by it.” He spoke of “the haters” and “the gatekeepers,” as a LOLCat-style photo was projected on the screen behind him showing a bespectacled granny over the caption WHAT CHANNEL IS THE NETFLIX ON?
Then Klein, who is 29, lope-strutted onstage to join him. By temperament, Klein is less of a revolutionary than Ohanian. He has never even fit the stereotype of a young Washington striver, exactly—he is more self-effacing than abrasive, and his boundless drive seems less about maximizing power than projecting his worldview and amassing successes. He has done this, in part, by insinuating himself into the Washington Establishment, and he is skeptical of technologist worship. While Ohanian whipped up the crowd with visions of Internet domination, Klein was a tempering voice, reminding the students of their extreme privilege and taking aim at the lionizing of Silicon Valley innovators. “I don’t think there’s anything all that heroic, honestly, about being Mark Zuckerberg,” he told the crowd.
And now he had decided he no longer needed it. Since reports to this effect began surfacing several weeks ago, the question of whether he would leave the paper behind—and for whom—had become a matter of feverish conjecture among journalists. Much of the chatter focused on the notion of journalist-as-brand, on the tension between individual online stars and the larger traditional news organizations they work for and, sometimes, leave. Last year, Andrew Sullivan had decamped from the Daily Beast to start his own, subscription-based site; Silver had left the Times to build a site of his own with ESPN’s backing.
Klein had met with “a lot” of suitors, among them VC billionaires, investment funds, and traditional media companies, before settling on Vox Media, a group of media websites including SB Nation, the Verge, and Eater. But in one crucial respect, all the commentators were misinformed. Klein wasn’t seeking to spin off what he thought of as “super Wonkblog”—that is, more of the same work he had done at the Post, though with greater independence and a bigger budget, and with his name splashed on top. Instead, he was looking for someone to fund something much riskier, something a guy like Alexis Ohanian could get behind.
It is “a software-eats-the-world idea,” Klein told the crowd at UCLA. During his eight years working in Washington, he had become convinced of a structural flaw in the way journalism is practiced—and he believed he might know how to do it better and very profitably. “We think there are a lot of ways in which the technology underlying journalism is reinforcing habits developed, and workflows developed, back when we were tied to killing trees and printing them out and having children deliver them to people,” he said. He then set forth a more general analysis of journalism. The column inches devoted to the new are column inches not given to the important, and this stress on novelty is a holdover from when the cost of making and moving paper limited what you could print. “The web explodes that constraint,” Klein said. “We can publish War and Peace in the morning, then ten things on Obamacare, and then a hundred pictures of cats … And for all that, we haven’t created a resource that people can really use. We’ve just created a resource where it’s really easy to come and find out what happened today.”
Together with his co-founders, including Matt Yglesias, a columnist at Slate, and Melissa Bell, the Post’s former director of platforms, Klein intends to hire dozens of people to build a journalism site that will operate, they say, differently from anything already existing—a 21st-century encyclopedia as much as a digital news site. The new venture is the boldest statement yet of the media critique that has fueled Klein’s career. It is also part of a sudden surge of creative experimentation and big-money investment in digital journalism. All of which might help explain why, that evening at UCLA, a man who has built a career on the precise, dispassionate explanation of a complicated world was holding forth like he was giving a ted talk. “We want to think really hard about how to connect not just new information,” he said, “but to bring it together with important contextual information to create a more thorough source and place to understand the world.”
At UCLA, Klein extolled the newspaper he had just left, calling his tenure at the Post “one of, if not the greatest honor of my life.” It was “an amazing newsroom” full of “amazing people” who would continue to do “unbelievably amazing things.” He is at pains not to have his departure from the Post reflect in any way negatively on the paper. Nonetheless, he was always a bit of a misfit there.
When he was hired by the Post, Klein was 24, and already better known than many of the journalists on staff. He had first attracted attention as part of the Bush-era “netroots” phenomenon, the wave of liberal bloggers who, among other things, railed against what they saw as the centrist media’s failure to take on the president. After moving his blog to the American Prospect in 2007, he built a loyal core audience and scored a valuable insight: that a densely data- and policy-focused website could, counterintuitively, attract a larger audience than ones with more facile coverage. The Post took notice, and set about wooing him.
The paper Klein joined in early 2009 was retrenching. Raju Narisetti, who had been hired by editor Marcus Brauchli to integrate the then-separate web and print divisions, was trying to caffeinate the place. He saw in Klein, with his world-beating spirit, workaholic output, and prescient enthusiasm for shareable charts and data, a catalyst for that process. “It was like throwing him in the midst of unbelievers and proving otherwise,” says Narisetti. “I’m sure things weren’t that easy for him in the beginning. A lot of people at the Washington Post in traditional reporting roles lacked an appreciation that storytelling on the web can be a lot more engaging if you don’t rely just on words.”
Other things they lacked an appreciation for: Klein’s youth and his circumvention of the traditional rung-climbing. Five years earlier, he’d been a college kid blogging from his dorm room. Now, in a small cluster of cubicles in the middle of the business section of the newsroom, under a pendant sign reading WONKPOD, he built Wonkblog into a fief of its own.
Klein’s gift for explicating the complex is such that Rachel Maddow, on her MSNBC show, introduced “The Ezra Klein Challenge”—a recurring feature in which he raced a two-minute countdown clock to explain Ambien-strength topics like Spanish debt yields. He is an evangelist of argument-by-spreadsheet: A large number of Wonkblog posts consist mainly of a chart or graph. Once, after he’d had a long day, I watched Klein guide a finger sideways through the air, graphing the rhythm of the past twelve hours in illustration. “It’s calm, it’s calm, it’s calm,” he said, before spiking his finger upward to reflect the evening energy burst his schedule required. “Instead of a linear distribution,” he said, “it’s a power-law distribution.” Klein approaches food, the closest thing he has to a hobby, with similar purpose and exactitude: He and his wife, New York Times economic-policy reporter Annie Lowrey, used to manage their weekly meat consumption using a points system Klein compares to cap-and-trade without the trade. Even his indulgences seem the product of a man who is crunching data and plotting his joy. He ate at El Bulli before it closed, owns a sous-vide machine, and has interspersed his mostly policy-related tweets with declarations like “I’m officially adding fresh figs to my list of favorite foods.”
Wonkblog was, on its own terms, a success. Together with its spinoffs, technology-focused the Switch and viral-oriented Know More, it has been by far the Post’s highest-profile profit center during the past few years. Visitor traffic to the sites grew quickly, peaking at “well over” 10 million page views in some months, according to a person with knowledge of the site’s numbers; in 2013, Wonkblog alone reportedly averaged 2.7 million monthly visitors. The economics writer John Cassidy recently guessed an annual revenue of $1.2 million, but this person says the blogs make “a fuck-ton more money than that.”
Perhaps the only person unsatisfied with Wonkblog’s growth was Klein himself. In addition to posting regularly on the blog and overseeing his staff, he wrote a weekly print column in the Post and another weekly column for Bloomberg View, and still found time to write long articles for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. Plus he sold a book to Simon & Schuster. At MSNBC, he got a contract as an analyst.
When, in late 2012, the Times reported that he was likely to be offered his own MSNBC show, it made sense. Maddow had demonstrated it was possible to be smart on the idiot box, and countless journalists have made the transition from print to TV, with its promise of fame and a bigger salary.
One evening last January, I sat with Klein at the MSNBC studio near American University in Washington, D.C., as he was getting ready to guest-host The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell. It was clearly part of an ongoing audition for his own show. But even though Klein has a pleasant TV persona, you could see the tension between his desire to be good at hosting and the sense that it wasn’t the most comfortable fit. When a producer suggested that Klein ask Barney Frank about supposed anti-gay remarks made by Chuck Hagel, the nominee for secretary of Defense, Klein deflected: “I just don’t think that attack on Hagel is very interesting.” Later, he anguished over his opening line about Obama’s choice of Hagel. “I kind of want to write, ‘It was the worst day for neoconservatives since the day Vice-President Cheney shot a dude in the face,’ ” he said to me. “Which is a funny way to open the show. But I feel like, Do I need to poke Dick Cheney? This is the thing about TV that I do find hard: It rewards a sharpness that I wouldn’t use in my writing.”
Klein ended up cutting the joke, Chris Hayes ended up getting the MSNBC job, and Klein’s guest-hosting became less frequent. Suddenly, his next move looked uncertain. “He has a bit of the conquistador in him,” says Lowrey. “Everything he does, he’s kind of looking around at the women and the goats and the huts.” With TV off the table, he spent much of the past year planning something ambitious enough to hold his attention but that would take him away from cable TV and, for that matter, the whole personality-driven news business that he finds problematic.“I think the brand part of journalism is not gone, but as far as that being the hot new thing, that was a couple years ago,” he says. “My interest here is entirely about building a truly significant, central news property for the digital age, that if it succeeds—and it definitely might not—will be a huge company that is devoted to helping people, like a Wikipedia or New York Times. The wildest version of this has nothing to do with me.”
For someone who intends to reshape journalism, Klein has an unusual distaste for Great Man theories and a generic distrust of narrative. He prefers the X-ray power of the chart, the infographic, the bullet-point breakdown—of what he calls “data viz.” If Wonkblog ran a post about its creator, it would be titled something like: “The Four Things You Need to Know About Ezra Klein in One Chart.” Minus the chart:
1. Before Klein was a prodigy, he was a slug.
It had briefly seemed that young Ezra might be headed for bigger things when, at age 6, the L.A. Times wrote about his invention of the “Ice Cream Cooler and Melt Stopper,” a plastic guard so “my sister won’t spill everything anymore.” But his moment in the spotlight proved a blip in an otherwise lackluster childhood in Irvine, California.
When he was in seventh grade, a group of classmates formed a little gang, with cards identifying them as the Outlaws, and bullied Ezra and some other kids severely enough that the police were called. Ezra was overweight and unpopular; even in high school the bullying didn’t stop. “We were both obnoxious know-it-alls,” recalls his friend Tristan Reed, “and that’s an easy way to not have people like you.”
His sophomore year in high school, Ezra metamorphosed. Every day, for six months, he ate the same thing and ran three miles. He dropped 50 of his 220-plus pounds and started to focus more on how he dressed. “There was something that happened when he did lose that weight,” Gideon Kracov, his half-brother, says. “Something clicked with him.” Ezra was a voracious reader but a poor student, whiling away hours smoking pot and playing GoldenEye and Tony Hawk on his Nintendo 64. He says he graduated from high school with a 2.2 GPA and barely got into UC Santa Cruz.
2. He didn’t always fret about Cheney jokes.
The son of a Brazilian mathematician and an artist, Klein was introduced to Democratic politics through his half-brother. Kracov, a politically active environmental lawyer in L.A. thirteen years his senior, brought Ezra along to ride in a car with Senator Paul Wellstone, work the phone bank for Cory Booker, and march alongside Latino farm workers. To this day, their maternal grandfather, Leonard Kaufer, now 92, sends both Gideon and Ezra envelopes, two or three times a week, stuffed with annotated newspaper articles—kind of an analog proto-Wonkblog.
When Klein started blogging in 2003, his freshman year of college, it was as an outspoken activist. He worked on Gary Hart’s abortive 2004 presidential campaign, then briefly for Howard Dean in Vermont, and was among the bloggers invited to the 2004 Democratic convention. Like many bloggers, Klein’s early opinions could be acidic. Mickey Kaus was a “hack,” Thomas Friedman a “peddler of trite moderation,” and Dick Armey “like a stupid person’s idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like.”
But from the beginning, Klein’s blog posts seemed animated less by ideology than by good-government idealism and a broader media critique: that mainstream political reporting, with its focus on personalities and campaign drama and false equivalencies, wasn’t covering the important stuff, or covering it right. In April 2005, prompted by commenter response to a post about a think tank’s health-care report, Klein blogged a weeklong series of posts, each about a different country’s health-care system. “Everything was just ‘Bush sucks, Bush sucks,’ and Ezra comes along with ‘I want to do an international, cross-country health-care comparison,’ ” recalls Mark Schmitt, who would later edit Klein at the American Prospect.
At the Prospect, Klein learned to report, and he became an intellectual entrepreneur. Noticing that the magazine could use an authority on health care, he mastered the issue. Discerning the potential of online, he availed himself of the unlimited digital space to post detailed transcripts of long interviews. And when he took his show to the Post, his policy-focused approach to politics was, as much as anything, an identification of a market gap. “Ezra saw that there was unmet demand for this kind of content clearly in U.S. politics,” Reed says.
3. The stars aligned.
When Klein was starting out, the nascent liberal blogosphere was a place where the web’s flatness could work for you: No one was able to see that you still had peach fuzz as you were typing. Klein’s ascent dovetailed with the late-aughts domestic-policy boom. A president with a similar worldview had been elected, and for the first two years of the Obama administration, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, leading to the most prolific legislative era since LBJ. Obama’s three big pieces of first-term legislation—health care, stimulus, and Dodd-Frank—were the kinds of arcane and complex subjects Klein excelled at explaining. And blogs, iterative and unlimited in space, turned out to be an excellent medium for covering policy debates: You could go long and deep; you could repeat and revise and update and follow an issue’s evolution. This was especially true for covering legislation, and when Klein arrived in D.C., he had a first-mover advantage. The big outlets didn’t yet have star bloggers.
4. He worked it, too.
Klein succeeded in the blogosphere in part by reaching out to others. His chief inspiration was Matt Yglesias, another college-kid blogger and moderate liberal who’d initially been sympathetic to the case for the Iraq War, then changed his mind about it. Yglesias started linking to Klein fairly regularly, and Klein was persistent in soliciting links from other bloggers and asking to be put on their blog rolls, too.
It was Klein’s decision to transfer to a bigger school (UCLA) and, eager to get to Washington, to take on extra courses to graduate college in three years. He got on MSNBC by pestering producers until they booked him. And not long after arriving in D.C., Klein found a way to put himself at the center of a heady conversation: He started a listserv called JournoList, a place where left-of-center journalists, scholars, and policy folks could talk. “I think Ezra had a real determination to cross over and not be an outsider blogger guy,” Yglesias says. “He wanted to build bridges with people in the media.” When JournoList came under attack by conservatives, Klein’s friend Dave Weigel, a contributor, was forced out of the Post; Klein himself was quick with damage control, shutting the listserv down.
“Have you read A Sense of Where You Are?” Weigel asks. “Ezra has an insanely good sense, when he enters a room, a virtual room or a room at a party, of exactly what needs to be done before he gets out of there. He’s a really good guy. He also knows just what to do to make a good impression.”
“The four things You Need to Know About Ezra Klein” could be described, respectively, as the psychological narrative, the coming-of-age narrative, the structural narrative, and the quest narrative. If it were left to Klein, he’d give by far the most weight to No. 3. “Oh, yeah, I pushed it at times,” he allows. “And I’m not saying it’s entirely wrong, but I think it’s a classic mistake to entirely work backward”—to assume an outcome was predetermined by character traits.
He sees himself as a beneficiary of technological trends in journalism and as having been in the right place at the right time. He often thinks about how his life could have turned out differently. If he hadn’t been rejected by the college paper, he might never have become a blogger. If Yglesias hadn’t responded to the first e-mail he sent him, he might not have become a prominent one. Because Klein was a college kid when blogging took off, he was in a position to parlay it into a career more easily than, say, a lawyer who was blogging on the side. “It’s very, very easy for me to imagine another world in which I’m the same guy and have all the same ambitions and hopes and dreams, and it just went nowhere,” he says.
Lowrey has a name for her husband’s penchant for processing the world as a matrix of impersonal forces: “Kleinian structuralism.” “I can’t overstate the degree to which he applies this to virtually everything,” she says. “If he sees a couple that’s a handsome man and a homely woman, he’ll be obsessed with what’s the missing variable that would explain how this could be working.” It’s also the prism through which he has made sense of his bullying experiences. “I thought a lot about why my life changed,” he says. “And I really felt, well, the change wasn’t so much me but my ability to opt into cultures that fit me better.”
Klein’s first in-depth attempt to overlay this worldview onto Washington was the book he sold in 2012, which he describes as “an effort to see Washington less as the outcome of individuals’ decisions and campaign tactics, and more to uncover the way it works as a coherent system that has internal systemic incentives and different parts affecting each other.” The manuscript was due this past July; he hasn’t finished it. He’s been consumed, instead, with what he calls “Project X.”
Klein’s theory of the news grew out of his frustration with the industry’s relentless presentism, with the fact that, because media organizations prioritize what’s new (that’s why it’s called news), an article about the latest development in Syria’s civil war would likely not mention the single most important fact necessary to understand what is happening: the historical enmity between Alawites and Sunnis. There is little allowance made for readers coming to a story late and an assumption that anyone who’s been following a story over time will remember all the relevant contextual information. Klein was constantly getting e-mails from readers asking questions like “I don’t understand how the subsidies work in Obamacare” and wrestling with how to better serve them. “When you’re trying to come up with a good approach to reporting on the bleeding edge of where the conversation’s moving,” he says, “you’re just leaving a lot of people who aren’t on the bleeding edge of that conversation out.”
The answer, as Klein sees it, lies in the handling of what he calls “persistent content,” the more static information that makes the new stuff make sense. And here, he believes, the Internet has untapped potential. Traditional media organizations have taken advantage of the Internet’s speed but not its longevity. “People set newspapers on fire, they use them for wrapping fish,” Yglesias says. “The Internet does not have that property. What I don’t think we’ve gotten is that you can make things last longer than in print.” People who think about digital journalism distinguish between what they call unchanging “stock content” and ephemeral “flow content.” Klein believes that distinction is unhelpfully stark. “We’re interested in ending the ‘versus’ there,” he says. “We believe there are rivers and lakes of content that work together.”
Wonkblog has gestured in this less novelty-fixated direction, with lots of “explainers” and aggressive resurfacing of old information. While Klein is being circumspect about the operational details of Project X, he suggests that breaking-news squibs could be very short and attached to constantly updated background articles, a bit like Wikipedia entries written by professional journalists. Long features might be regularly freshened up. Last year, for instance, Wonkblog’s Dylan Matthews, who is joining Klein at Vox, wrote a profile of Stanley Fischer, who was then the central banker of Israel; now that Fischer has been nominated to the U.S. Federal Reserve, a definitive profile has a much greater chance of attracting traffic, and Klein imagines being able to direct Matthews to re-report it and “build out a new Stan Fischer profile off of this skeleton.”
This was a few hours before his UCLA talk, and we were sitting outside a nearby In-N-Out Burger, an old favorite of Klein’s. He had come straight from the airport and ordered two hamburgers for himself (any meat-consumption quota is suspended when he’s on the road). “When I was on the way here, I wanted to remember a couple of the secret orders,” Klein said, referring to In-N-Out Burger’s arcane glossary of off-menu options. “There’s a Serious Eats page that found every single one of them. It has 75,000 likes on Facebook. And the reason isn’t that when it was published it was a huge newsbreak. The reason is, people keep going back to it. I’ve gone back to it multiple times myself.” Klein expects to launch Project X with a focus on politics and economics, but hopefully expand it into other subjects.
Reports have put Project X’s budget at eight figures (which Klein doesn’t deny, though, as he points out, “what’s the window for that?”), and some observers have wondered whether Project X will ever attract enough of an audience to support itself. Most attempts to analyze Klein’s numbers have tended toward a crude calculus based on the dwindling commodity business of selling banner ads against digital journalism; at Wonkblog, though, and almost certainly in his new venture, revenues are driven not only by raw ad impressions but by customized ad products, special events, and sponsorships, which he (and Vox Media) believes are a much better long-term bet. But it is a bet—one of the chanciest to come out of the last few years of media upheaval.
When Klein first went to the Post with his idea, the paper passed, not because of money issues so much as that he wanted his own technology, and his own edit and business staff. Klein ended up going with Vox, a native digital-media network, because of its strength in those areas. At a News Foo “unconference” last summer, he heard Trei Brundrett, Vox’s chief product officer, and “it scared the shit out of me, because he appeared to have already built a lot of the technology I’d dreamed about.” The company later reached out to him. Klein will be the editor-in-chief of Project X and a Vox vice-president with, according to Jim Bankoff, Vox’s CEO, “a senior voice in the company.”
Some of the reaction to Klein’s departure from the Post has been that the Post has once more blown it, just as some believe the paper did when it allowed its star political journalists to leave and found the web upstart Politico. Klein never saw it that way. “There’s a lot of ‘Here goes the Post again,’ which is kind of fucked up,” he says. “Politico could only be Politico outside the Post. It wasn’t that [former Post owner] Don Graham, who’s on the fucking board of Facebook, didn’t understand the innovator’s dilemma.” Klein thinks that it simply doesn’t make sense for an established company to fund a competing site, and that the Post was right to stay focused on its core mission.
Klein was surprised, he says, by the amount of media attention his new venture has already received. “There was a 24-hour period when we were going to revolutionize media and change everything,” he said last week. “Then there was a 24-hour period when we were doomed to fail. And then lots of older journalists were offended we’re using the term ‘content-management system.’ ” This was clearly a reference to an article by George Packer on The New Yorker’s website, in which he’d pooh-poohed a common technology term as empty jargon and dismissed digital journalism as unreported. “It’s funny,” Klein said. “If he’d done a second of reporting, he’d have found out we’re going to do a lot of reporting. So there was a meta-hilarity to that.”
All the attention, though, has been valuable. As of last Wednesday, in the three days since Klein announced his new venture, he had received more than 600 résumés. “Yesterday, we were getting fifteen to twenty an hour,” he told me. At the same time, Klein was trying to dial back expectations, and to manage his own contradictory impulses to treat hero-narratives skeptically while also giving his own shot at history a proper sell. “We’re building an organization to solve these problems,” he said, “not saying that we already have at the outset. That’s not faux humility. We have some ideas I think are cool. I don’t know that they’ll work.”
If we look carefully at 1963 for evidence of what it may portend for 1964, one thing we may note is at least a moderate easing of international tension. The most important evidence of this is, of course, the successful negotiation and ratification of the nuclear test-ban treaty, but there are other encouraging items also Would it be too much to say that such easing of international tensions as occurred in 1963 was accompanied, to a similar degree, by an easing of familiar tensions here at home? Probably we cannot say that much, but at least there are signs of progress.
January 2: Castro Says He Is Hopeful of Good U.S. Relations
Premier Fidel Castro said yesterday in a telephone interview from Havana that he was hopeful that good relations with the United States might be restored this year. He added that the next move was up to Washington. He said that until President Kennedy’s tragic death, he believed that an eventual normalization of relations with the Kennedy Administration was possible.
February 10: Quartet Continues to Agitate the Faithful Review by Jack Gould
The cyclical turnover in teen-age trauma received recognition last night in the businesslike appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show over the Columbia Broadcasting System. The boys hardly did for daughter what Elvis Presley did for her older sister or Frank Sinatra did for mother. In their sophisticated understanding that the life of a fad depends on the performance of the audience and not on the stage, the Beatles were decidedly effective. In their two sets of numbers, they allowed the healing effect of group therapy to run its course Televised Beatlemania appeared to be a fine mass placebo.
February 10: Negro Bitterness Said to Increase
White college students participating in a seminar at a weekend conference on The Negro Revolt were given an unexpected glimpse of how an increasing number of Negroes privately view white America. The white students, earnestly committed to supporting the civil rights movement, were deeply disturbed and shocked by the discussion.
April 21: Syria’s Foes Say Revolt Spreads
Enemies of the Baathist regime in Syria maintained today that a revolt there was out of control despite Syrian Government assertions to the contrary.
July 3: President Signs Civil Rights Bill; Bids All Back It
President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 tonight. It is the most far-reaching civil rights law since Reconstruction days. The President announced steps to implement it and called on all Americans to help eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in America. Louis G. Wyman, Republican of New Hampshire, who is a supporter of Senator Goldwater’s candidacy, said he would have no fear if we had a Supreme Court worthy of the name, because then the unconstitutional aspects of bill would soon be struck down.
Of this we could be confident, he said. Unfortunately, it is otherwise, and has been virtually ever since the incumbency of the present Chief Justice [Earl Warren].
The Southerners gave him a rousing ovation.
July 19: Thousands Riot in Harlem Area; Scores Are Hurt
Thousands of rioting Negroes raced through the center of Harlem last night and early today, shouting at policemen and white people, pulling fire alarms, breaking windows and looting stores. The riot grew out of a demonstration in front of the West 123rd Street police station protesting the slaying of a Negro youth by a white police lieutenant last Thursday. When the police sealed off the block in front of the station house, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, the shouting, keyed-up crowd spread out in angry groups in the surrounding neighborhood. Shots fired into the air by policemen to disperse the milling crowds echoed through streets littered with overturned garbage cans and broken glass. By 10 o’clock, the street had been cleared and barricades set up at the avenues. Policemen in riot helmets roamed the roofs and stood shoulder to shoulder at the barricades.
Killer cops must go, shouted the crowd. Police brutality must go.
August 2: U.S. Bolsters Vietnam
The United States let South Vietnam reveal this weekand then quietly confirmedthat more American troops would soon be sent to help manage the antiguerrilla war. More was eventually defined as about 5,000 men to augment a force of more than 16,000. Soon was explained to mean three to six months.
Most important, the move was officially described here as more of the samethat is to say, the troops will lead, guide and advise the South Vietnamese inside the borders of South Vietnam; they will not themselves be formally committed to combat or be used to mount a direct attack against Communist North Vietnam.
October 18: China’s Bomb: Grave Problems Posed for West
The detonation last week of China’s first nuclear device sent a shock wave around the world; even the anticipation of the event helped to blow Premier Khruschev out of the Kremlin. Perhaps of even more long-range importance to the future of mankind than the immediate political, psychological and military consequences was what Peking’s first test signified to the world’s nuclear club. Put in a nutshell, the explosion in Western China, evidently in Sinkiang Province, meant that the exclusiveness of the club had been breached, and that the long predicted era of nuclear proliferation was at hand. There is not much doubt that last week’s events, taken in toto, spell a turning point in the atomic age and in the history of the Twentieth Century, but where the new road will take us, no man knows.
November 4: What Goldwater Lost Column by James Reston
Barry Goldwater not only lost the Presidential election yesterday but the conservative cause as well. He has wrecked his party for a long time to come and is not even likely to control the wreckage. The only theory he proved is that part of the Deep South, particularly the rural South, favors his policies of leaving the Negro revolution to the judgment of the States. His gamble that the North would put its prejudices against the Negro ahead of its conscience was disproved. His belief that the American people would turn against the principles of social security at home and collective security abroad was rejected. Even the Middle Western Bible Belt on which he centered his moral yearnings, turned against him.
November 23: Rightists Buoyed by the Election
After a brief period of post-election mourning, the extreme right wing of the American political spectrum has assessed its position and found cause for elation. And some of its sturdiest foes concede the joy is not unwarranted. Despite the crushing defeat suffered by the candidate they labored for, Senator Barry Goldwater, ultraconservative groups are claiming a thrilling victory.
The apparent paradox is easily explained. Never before has a candidate favored by the far right polled more than a tiny fraction of the 26 million votes Mr. Goldwater received.
26,000,000 American Can’t Be Wrong! shouts a bright orange bumper sticker being distributed by the Conservative Society of America in New Orleans.
A coast-to-coast survey by the New York Times shows that most spokesmen for the far right feel the entire Goldwater vote reflects agreement with their views The survey also shows that the right wing, proud of its participation in the Goldwater campaign, intends to redouble its efforts in grass roots organizing aimed at the 1966 and 1968 elections they intend to marshal all the forces they can to see that there is a next time for a right-wing Presidential candidate.
December 31: Old Year, New Year Editorial
A year that began with high hope has made good on part of its promise. We can thank 1964 for its giftdespite the new bang in Chinaof twelve months of peace between the major atomic powers At home we can be proud of the enactment of a really worthwhile civil rights bill; gratified for the business boom that still runs on; thankful that the country did not decide on Nov. 3 to turn back to McKinley.
There is another side of the story? There is indeed. All over the world there are wide areas of distress and conflict. The situation inherited in Vietnam seems to grow worse instead of better. The U.N. is semi-paralyzed by disagreement. There is chaos in the Congo. Other young African states are in deep trouble. These are some of the problems. There are more.
It will do us no good to hope for the millennium in 1965. The next twelve months are not likely to bring a settlement of the Berlin question or a solution in Kashmir or agreement between Peking and Taiwan of the departure of Castro or many other desirable denouements. What one can hope for, and work for, is that where a good beginning has been made it will not falter.
MONTREAL — It has all the makings of a Cold War drama: Russian sleeper spies posing as a suburban family in North America, children who say they were oblivious their parents were Russian agents and an elaborate F.B.I. operation unmasking the shadowy ruse.
On Thursday, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that the younger son of real-life Russian spies who helped inspire the television series “The Americans” is entitled to Canadian citizenship, after a protracted legal battle in which he argued that children should not be punished for the sins of their parents.
The case centers on Toronto-born Alexander Vavilov, now 25, who returned to Russia with his brother, Timothy, after their parents — Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova — were unmasked as spies and arrested by F.B.I. agents in the United States in 2010. The arrests were part of the unraveling of a Russian espionage ring that had used high-tech gadgetry and detailed cover stories to collect political gossip and policy talk about the United States.
Under Canadian law, people born in Canada have the right to Canadian citizenship with rare exceptions, including if they are children born to diplomatic officers or employees of a foreign government.
The legal battle began in 2010, when Alexander Vavilov’s application to renew his Canadian passport was denied. His Canadian citizenship was later revoked by immigration authorities on the grounds that his parents were employees of Russia who had been in Canada for espionage.
In its ruling on Thursday the Supreme Court said it was unreasonable to apply the exception to the right of citizenship by birth to Mr. Vavilov given that his parents were not consular or diplomatic officials who had enjoyed immunity or privileges under Canadian law.
Mr. Vavilov “did not know that his parents were not who they claimed to be,” the court wrote. “He believed that he was a Canadian citizen by birth, he lived and identified as a Canadian, and he held a Canadian passport.”
“The relief I feel is indescribable,” Mr. Vavilov said in a statement read by his lawyer. “I can finally take a deep breath and relax knowing that my citizenship is secure and no longer the subject of attacks and doubts. It is a recognition that not only do I feel Canadian but I am Canadian in eyes of the law.”
“These are innocent people caught up in this bigger game between superpowers,” he said by phone. “At the time they were children. We do not use citizenship laws to try to punish people for something their parents have done.”
The back story of the Vavilov family is the stuff of a spy thriller — which it helped inspire with “The Americans.”
After being trained in Russia, Mr. Vavilov’s parents moved to Toronto, where they took on the names of Canadians who had died as infants — Tracey Lee Ann Foley and Donald Howard Heathfield. The couple started a successful diaper business and had two boys — Timothy in 1990 and Alexander in 1994.
After a period of living in France, the family moved to the United States in 1999, and eventually lived in Cambridge, Mass., where Mr. Bezrukov undertook graduate work at Harvard.
But the couple were being monitored by the F.B.I. as part of a sprawling Russian spy ring that had rigorous training and undercover identities and included sleeper spies in Yonkers, N.Y., Manhattan, New Jersey, Boston and Virginia. The couple pleaded guilty to spying for Russia and returned to Russia as part of a swap with American spies arrested in Russia.
In an affidavit submitted to one of the Canadian courts, Alexander Vavilov said he had grown up believing he was Canadian, had learned French and English in deference to his Canadian heritage, and had been shocked and “traumatized” to discover that his parents were spies.
“I remember vividly the F.B.I. agents entering our house with weapons as I walked down the stairs,” he wrote.
“My parents were handcuffed in front of my eyes. Canada will always be my home,” he added. “It is the only culture I can associate with, and has been a cornerstone of my identity.”
One Carnival cruise ship crashed into another while trying to dock at a port in Mexico on Friday, leaving six injured passengers, a damaged hull and a handful of expletive-laden social media videos in its wake.
The crash happened as the Carnival Glory cruise ship was “maneuvering to dock” in Cozumel, an island off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, and struck the Carnival Legend, which was already docked, Chelsea Stromfeld, a spokeswoman for the cruise line, said in an email.
Ms. Stromfeld said six passengers sustained “minor injuries,” including one who was hurt while a group of guests were evacuating a dining room on Decks 3 and 4.
“We are assessing the damage but there are no issues that impact the seaworthiness of either ship,” she wrote. “We have advised guests from both ships to enjoy their day ashore in Cozumel.”
Videos of the crash were captured by bystanders and shared widely on social media. They showed the nose of the Glory striking the back of the Legend, causing a great crashing sound and ripping a hole in the side of the ship.
“He’s going to hit us next!” a man can be heard yelling in one video. The video appeared to have been taken from the deck of another nearby cruise ship, but no additional crashes were reported on Friday.
The Carnival Glory is a Miami-based ship registered in Panama that has been carrying passengers since 2003, according to the cruise line. It carries about 1,150 crew members and has a maximum guest capacity of 3,756, but the company did not say how many people were on board at the time of the crash.
The Carnival Legend is a smaller ship. It carries about 930 crew members, can accommodate up to 2,610 guests and has been in service for the company since 2002. It is based in Tampa but registered in Malta, the cruise line said.
Just over a year has passed since Canada became the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational marijuana. Here’s the mini version of the article I wrote for The Times about what it has brought the country: tears for investors, frustration for many shoppers and indifference from most of the public, but few of the widely feared problems. Please let me encourage you to read the full version.
[Read: From Canada’s Legal High, a Business Letdown]
As is often the case with longer stories, my reporting took me down many paths that ultimately couldn’t be included in the article. But as we mark the first week of legal sales of edibles (if, again, on a limited basis), let’s look at some of the unresolved issues surrounding the legal marijuana market:
— I spoke with Monica Haberl, a researcher at the Conference Board of Canada, who studies how employers are dealing with cannabis use by their workers.
She compared the fears in the run-up to marijuana legalization with the Y2K fretting of two decades ago.
“There was all this hubbub sort of leading up to it, and then it wasn’t really the disaster that people expected it to be,” Ms. Haberl said. “I always have to add the qualifier that it doesn’t mean that there aren’t still legitimate concerns and that there won’t be new ones in the future. So it’s still something worth having a conversation about.”
At the top of the list of her concerns are the effects of edibles on workplaces. Smoking remains the most common way for Canadians to get their marijuana buzzes. For employers that’s a good thing, as it leaves a lingering and unmistakable odor on users. (By the way, the smell in commercial marijuana grow rooms like the one pictured in this newsletter is almost unbearable after a couple of minutes.)
But, Ms. Haberl said, “from a workplace safety standpoint, edibles are just easier to hide and harder for an employer to detect.”
On top of all that, she said, the science is still out on how to define marijuana impairment, something that has become even more difficult with edibles because they metabolize differently within the body than smoked weed.
“The science is not there to say ‘one toke for women, two tokes for men,’ as is the case with alcohol and blood levels,” she said. “The science is essentially behind the legislation.”
— At McMaster University in Hamilton, Michael Amlung, a professor of psychiatry who studies addictions, told me that defining impairment isn’t the only outstanding cannabis issue on researchers’ agendas.
“One of the things that’s concerning from my standpoint in terms of research is when we’re talking about cannabis use among youth. We don’t know much about the effects of cannabis on the developing brain — and the brain does continue to develop into the teen years and into the early 20s,” he said. “There is some preliminary evidence that heavy cannabis use during those time periods can impact typical neural development, but we don’t understand yet what the potential long-term consequences may be.”
He is also dismayed about many claims around marijuana, particularly the idea that different strains offer specific properties — like, say, aiding sleep.
“There is a lot of snake oil at this point,” he said. “This idea that cannabis is a miracle plant that will cure all of your ailments is, at least currently, not supported by the science.”
Genetic analysis by botanists, Professor Amlung said, shows that there has been so much cross breeding between strains “that those labels are largely meaningless from a scientific standpoint.”
But while he had concerns, Professor Amlung was also confident in predicting that there was little possibility that Canada would become a land of stoners, even if legalization led to more people using cannabis.
“In terms of it being a scourge on society and leading to the so-called reefer madness, I just don’t see that as being a likely outcome,” he said.
— Finally, it’s not clear when the industry will start making money. All of the investment experts I interviewed agreed that we would see many mergers between the various marijuana producers, leading ultimately to a smaller number of large growers.
But none of them were willing to predict when the industry might produce the riches it once promised investors.
“It has been a remarkable swing from euphoria to where we are now,” Eric Kirzner, a professor emeritus of finance at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, told me. “But it really was a crapshoot then, and it’s a crapshoot now.”
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.
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BELÉM, Brazil — The masked gunmen pulled up to Wanda’s Bar at 3:49 p.m. on May 19 and began firing the moment they left their vehicles. Two people, including Wanda herself, died on the patio.
Inside, the gunmen worked in silence: two in front, shooting unarmed patrons at the bar and in the main room, while a third followed behind with a gun in each hand, firing a single shot into the head of anyone still moving.
When the massacre ended, 11 people lay dead, slumped over the bar, draped across chairs or huddled on the floor. Only two people survived, one by hiding under a friend’s lifeless body, case files show.
Once again, masked gunmen had struck in the Brazilian city of Belém, as they have for nearly a decade, stalking the streets in open defiance of the law. Robbing, extorting and killing without compunction.
Yet they did not belong to one of the many gangs that traffic drugs or guns in Brazil, leaving a trail of corpses.
They were cops.
The killings drew national attention to the police militias that have long plagued Belém, a dilapidated port city on the Amazon River. Part death squad, part criminal enterprise, their ranks are filled with retired and off-duty police officers who kill at will, often with total impunity.
In fact, the slaughter at Wanda’s Bar was not unique because off-duty police officers gunned down civilians without cause. Such killings are routine. What made this case stand out beyond its brutality was the government’s response: It decided to prosecute.
Of the seven people charged with the crime, four were off-duty police officers — including the three suspected gunmen.
“We’ve discovered a cancer inside the police,” said Armando Brasil, one of the prosecutors. “Now, we are seeing just how far it has spread.”
The number of people officially killed by the police reached a five-year high last year, rising to 6,220 — an average of 17 people each day, according to the Brazilian Public Security Forum, which compiles government data. Police killings may exceed that this year, coaxed on by President Jair Bolsonaro and his contention that criminals should “die like cockroaches.”
The deaths have stirred a familiar debate in Brazil. Human rights advocates denounce the heavy-handed approach as both inhumane and ineffective, while proponents say it is the only way to confront a crime wave that has put the entire nation at risk.
But even police officers acknowledge that the official statistics are only part of the picture.
There is a parallel form of police violence, masked from the public and carried out by illegal militias that draw their ranks from officers with little patience or respect for due process, according to interviews with militia members here in Belém.
By their own admission, groups of off-duty and retired officers regularly commit extrajudicial killings, targeting people they consider criminals, robbers and cop killers without so much as an arrest warrant.
“We’re going after criminals who hurt innocent people,” said one militia commander who, like others, asked that his name be withheld because he confessed to extrajudicial killings.
In their telling, militia members are delivering a public service, eliminating threats to society who, they fear, may never get convicted or will simply participate in sprawling criminal networks from prison, as often happens in Brazil.
“I’ve killed more than 80 criminals in my time as a police officer,” said another militia leader. “I’m a hero to my people. They love me.”
Latin America is in the midst of a homicide crisis. More killings take place in the region’s five most violent nations than in every major war zone combined, according to the Igarapé Institute, which tracks violence worldwide.
The usual suspects are often to blame: the cartels and gangs, the surfeit of guns, frequently from the United States, the paralyzed legal systems.
But violence by the state is another important factor in the bloodshed — driven by an abiding belief that nations must fight force with ruthless force to find peace.
In Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico and other countries, the use of deadly force by the authorities — and the acceptance, or even applause, by the population for that approach — is so widespread that even the public statistics point to an abundance of extrajudicial killings, researchers say.
In many dangerous places, even when gangs and organized crime are very well armed, it is not surprising that criminals die in greater numbers than the police or military they are fighting, researchers say.
But when that ratio is highly skewed — and 10 or more suspected criminals die for every police officer or soldier killed — researchers often view that as a clear indication of excessive force by the authorities.
In El Salvador, where the government is battling the gangs, the ratio is staggering — almost 102 to 1 — according to the Lethal Force Monitor, a research group that tracks the rates across several Latin American countries. In other words, for every policeman killed in El Salvador, nearly 102 suspected criminals die — 10 times the level researchers consider suspiciously high.
In Brazil, the number is also striking: 57 suspected criminals die for every police officer killed, the analysts found.
“We believe that homicides are not a problem, they’re a solution,” said Bruno Paes Manso, a researcher at the University of São Paulo, describing the public acceptance of killings by the police.
“There is a strong belief that violence promotes order,” he added. “And the militias thrive off this feeling.”
But extrajudicial killings are often much more than an extreme step by overzealous officers in cities like Belém and Rio de Janeiro, and some militia members are candid about their criminal motivations.
To line their pockets, some militia members say they bill businesses for security services, taking in hefty sums with mafia-style promises to keep the peace, or they charge local residents for the right to engage in basic commerce, like selling cooking gas or pizzas.
The militias also extort criminals and kill those who don’t pay, operations that hardly differ from the ones they are supposedly confronting.
“It became explicit for me,” said a third militia member. “It became organized crime.”
Today in Belém, there are hundreds of militia members operating in more than a dozen different factions, often with help from on-duty police officers, according to officials and militia members themselves. And until recently, officials say, the government rarely prosecuted or investigated them aggressively.
The government of Pará State, where Belém is the capital, says most police officers “do not deviate from their duties,” but acknowledges that others do. It says it has arrested about 50 officers this year in operations “to dismantle criminal organizations involving public security agents.”
The prosecutor investigating the massacre at Wanda’s Bar, Mr. Brasil, has linked the militias to at least 100 murders in the state in the last three years, but he thinks the actual number is much higher.
“They’ve killed way more than that,” said Mr. Brasil, who has bodyguards because he is going after the militias. “It’s well into the hundreds.”
‘I felt like an instrument of justice’
He took his first life in 2010, a few years out of the police academy, after a gang called the Red Command killed his colleague.
He and other officers shed their uniforms, put on masks and killed a dozen people they deemed responsible or connected in some way, he said.
After that, every time an officer was killed, he said, he and his fellow officers killed at least 10 suspected gang members in response. If violence was the language of the streets, their message would be the loudest.
Residents took notice, he said, and in 2012 a father in his neighborhood asked for help. A man had raped his daughter and was still walking free.
He asked if the officer would kill the man, to end his family’s nightmare. When it was done and the suspect was dead, the officer said, the father wept with gratitude and offered money.
He refused at first, then accepted it.
“It was the first time I felt like a hero,” said the officer. “I felt like an instrument of justice.”
From there, it was a short jump to becoming a contract killer, the officer said. Each step away from the law grew easier. Soon, the self-declared principles that marked the start of his militia activity were gone.
By 2014, the officer said, he was robbing drug dealers, kidnapping and torturing them when they resisted. His hatred of criminals justified just about anything, even killing innocent civilians accidentally. He said he came to embody the thing he hated most.
By that time, he said, militias were operating all over Belém. Some were strictly about killing known criminals. Others were about making money.
Then in 2014, one of the most powerful militia members in Belém, Antônio Figueiredo, was gunned down in the street. The militias took his death personally, three members said, and decided to respond.
On the night of Nov. 4, 2014, they retaliated, killing at least 10 people. But the revenge was reckless, sweeping up innocents as masked officers unleashed their rage.
The officer said he joined a team on motorcycles that went to the Terra Firme neighborhood, an area of mud streets and open sewage canals. He said he watched as a fellow officer dismounted, raised his weapon and fired at a teenager in a baseball cap.
The teenager, Eduardo Chaves, 16, was the first person gunned down in the massacre that night. At the time, his family said, he was leaving church with his grandparents and girlfriend. It was shortly after 9 p.m.
The masked officer shot Eduardo five times, killing him, while the others watched.
“He was a kid,” the officer said. “I knew he was innocent and I knew things were getting out of control. But I was so full of anger I didn’t say anything.”
“By that point, I was already hard-core,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything.”
The boy’s relatives said they ran to the scene and found his body in the mud. His grandmother, Maria Auxiliadora Neves, said she wept as she collected his silver necklace, his cellphone and the few dollars he had saved to buy his girlfriend a pair of sandals.
In the aftermath, Mrs. Neves began to speak out about his murder, a risk even the police warned her against. She became an activist, calling attention to police shootings across Belém.
And then, it happened to her family again.
On New Year’s Day, 2016, Danilo de Campos Galucio, another of her grandsons, was shot, this time by men in an unmarked car, she said. Investigators call that a telltale sign of a militia shooting.
The bullet passed through several organs and left him debilitated, at 15. He spent the next four years in and out of the hospital undergoing surgeries. Bedridden and depressed, he tried to kill himself twice.
This September, he died at 19, having succumbed to medical complications related to the shooting.
“I never paid attention to this before because it never affected me,” his grandmother said, referring to the killings by militias, which she once assumed were justified. “I don’t want revenge. I want justice.”
The deadly toll of one day in Belém
Officially, the police here in Pará State killed 626 people last year — a dozen each week.
In Belém, the state capital, the people killed by the police are disproportionately poor people of color, as they are elsewhere in Brazil. Nationwide, researchers say, 75 percent of the people shot and killed by the police are black.
Those factors — the frequency of official police shootings and the marginalized status of the people shot — add to an atmosphere in which death by the police seems common, almost inevitable, experts say, laying the groundwork for the militias to operate with relative ease.
Over the course of a week, The New York Times tracked seven police shootings in Belém, with nine casualties. This is a snapshot of just one day.
On Nov. 16, three young men tried to rob a clothing store. But the building belonged to a police officer, a member of the elite ROTAM force, known for its military culture and hyperviolence.
The officer, who was home at the time, saw the men enter the store on his security cameras and took them on himself, according to the police. As they left the store, he opened fire, shooting two of the men — one in the hand and the other in the head.
The officer stood outside, shirtless, clutching a revolver with a streak of blood smeared on his abdomen as the young man he shot in the head was rushed to the hospital. He survived.
Less than an hour later, an image of the young man’s face appeared on a WhatsApp group shared by militiamen, police officers and sympathizers. In case he evaded justice somehow, they would all know who he was, according to a person included in the group.
That evening, two men stole an S.U.V. and exchanged gunfire with the police as they tried to escape. The officers fired three shots into the vehicle. When it stopped, one of the men was taken into custody, witnesses said, adding that he appeared injured but could walk.
An hour later, when he arrived at the hospital, he was dead, with a gunshot wound to the heart, a photo of the body showed.
“I don’t know whether they executed him, and I don’t want to know,” his sister said on condition of anonymity, fearful of reprisals from the police. “The police here do what they want.”
Later that night, Ramon Silva Oliveira, 18, was also killed. He and a friend were coming home from a party, sharing a motorcycle, when the police tried to stop them, the family said.
Ramon, they said, was young, black and had a large tattoo, which officers here openly admit arouses suspicion. But he was no gang member, his family said. He had applied to join the military and, in the meantime, was looking for work. He played soccer well. Medals hung from the walls of his room like ornaments.
But that night, his friend, who was driving the motorcycle, decided to keep going. The police fired at the two young men, striking Ramon and forcing the motorcycle to fall over. He died almost immediately.
“I don’t know whether the gunshot wound killed him or the fall,” said his mother, Marlene Silva de Oliveira, folded in grief. “I didn’t have the heart to go and look at his body.”
The family held a wake for him the following evening, next to a plot of grass where children played soccer.
‘Allow us to kill anyone’
The arrests began days after the massacre at Wanda’s Bar. Using surveillance footage from street cameras, investigators found the gunmen’s car at a local repair shop.
The owner was trying to get some work done to the car, to disguise it. Soon enough, the authorities arrested four police officers — two hailed from the elite ROTAM force — and three others suspected in the crime.
Tying the murders to the police was relatively straightforward. Forensic analysts found numerous .40 caliber shells at the scene, a bullet available only to the military police, a prosecutor said.
But a judge in one of the cases thinks the evidence is relatively weak, partly because prosecutors have failed to uncover a motive.
In the meantime, the bar is closed, a mausoleum to the events of May 19, and residents remain terrified. Some of the accused lived nearby — and their friends still do.
The fear is so palpable that not a single family member of the deceased agreed to be interviewed. Some have moved, others changed phones and those still around refused to answer their doors or respond to messages.
But a close family friend of the bar’s owner, Maria Ivanilza Pinheiro Monteiro, known widely as Wanda, contended that everyone in the bar was innocent. They were all friends, partying, and the bar itself was a haunt for lots of militia guys, he said on the condition of anonymity for fear for his life.
That’s why the motive is so elusive, he said. The bar had been around for 15 years. They all knew the militias, or were even friends with them. Some of the people killed in the attack actually supported what the militias did, he said, thinking it was the only way to clean up the community.
In fact, the friend still felt that way. He believed that rogue cops were the best way to rid Belém of crime. Even with many of his friends now dead, he still clung to the belief that the militias were a “necessary evil.”
“They make life easier for the good people,” he said. “Overall, I still think they are a force for good.”
The militia men interviewed for this article all felt the killings at Wanda’s Bar were inexcusable, but they defended the militias in general. To them, violence was the only solution, and the only question was how to wield it.
“There’s a way to fix this,” said one of the militia leaders. “The governor should call the good cops and let us go and allow us to kill anyone. Only the bad people, the criminals, those who prey on the weak.”
“That will finish the violence once and for all,” he said.
MONTREAL — David McMillan, one of Montreal’s most influential chefs, estimates he has eaten at L’Express, the city’s premier French bistro, more than 500 times. His meal is almost always the same: pistachio-studded chicken liver pâté, followed by veal kidneys in mustard sauce.
“I still have this feeling of elation, like it’s Christmas, when I walk into that room,” he said. “Particularly when it’s a snowy Montreal night.”
A French bistro in the classic mold (zinc-topped bar, check-tile floor, standards-laden menu), the restaurant has been leaving an indelible imprint on customers for decades: In the coming year, L’Express will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
“This is a French city,” said Ms. Chesterman, “and the best place to see that is at L’Express.”
Restaurant professionals, from Canada and elsewhere, are particularly susceptible to the restaurant’s charms, lending it an influence that belies its size (66 seats, not including 15 bar stools) and modest name recognition outside Quebec. An argument can be made that it contains part of the source code for the approachable bistros and brasseries that have transformed American fine dining in the last 25 years.
“When I’m staring at a blank piece of paper, the first thing I see is L’Express’s menu,” said Riad Nasr, 55, the Montreal-born co-chef and owner, along with Lee Hanson, of Frenchette in New York.
Mr. Nasr and Mr. Hanson were the longtime chefs at Balthazar, a definitive American brasserie, and are now working to open a refreshed version of Le Veau d’Or, the Upper East Side bistro that dates back to 1937.
“To say I think about it literally every day wouldn’t be out of line,” Mr. Nasr said of L’Express. “We exist in its gravitational pull.”
Ms. Brossoit and Mr. Villeneuve were young members of Montreal’s fertile theater community when they envisioned an antidote to the stuffy, exclusive French restaurants that dominated Montreal in the late 1970s: a bistro with affordable prices, convivial service and hours — the kitchen has always been open until 2 or 3 a.m. — that catered to artists’ schedules.
“Colette said, ‘It’s impossible that, in a city like Montreal, we don’t have a place to eat well and simply after the theater,’” Mr. Villeneuve recalled of his partner, who died in 2014, at 62. “She wanted L’Express to be a ‘service publique,’ where everyone feels comfortable — the star of the show, who can order his champagne and caviar, and also the roadies.”
The restaurant was designed by the well-known local architect Luc Laport. The mirrored walls and canonical dishes (céleri rémoulade, soupe de poissons, duck confit) all evoke Paris. But the distinctive Québécois French spoken by so many staff and patrons is, to the trained ear, a signal that you’re in Montreal.
“It’s like a French brasserie where they speak in Canadian,” said Luc Deshaies, 56, a lawyer who has been eating at L’Express since soon after it opened. (He credits his France-based business partner for the observation.)
Yet much of the bistro’s abundant charisma flows from its connection to this beguiling, bilingual city. Mr. Laport’s signless facade — the restaurant’s name is written in tile on the front sidewalk — and rear solarium are among the more obvious features that distinguish the restaurant from the usual template.
Mr. Laport “never wanted to copy a French brasserie,” Mr. Villeneuve said. “We want to make a place for Montreal and from Montreal.”
From Day 1, the founders, whose only professional experience was in staging plays, resolved that the service would help accomplish that mission. “We hired people like a casting,” Mr. Villeneuve recalled, “actors, friends, almost all French Canadian, one French, one Belgian.” New hires were instructed, as they are today, to use the formal “vous” when addressing customers, and to wear traditional uniforms.
“That is the thing that is closer to France, the uniform,” he said. “But you have to be nice, not like a French waiter.”
While L’Express was popular from the start, the food didn’t hit its stride until after Joël Chapoulie was hired as chef in 1982.
“Normal people were coming to see the actors and entertainers who ate here,” Mr. Chapoulie recalled in an interview last month, speaking in a mix of French and English at a sunlit rear table in the narrow dining room. “But the food was not so good.”
Mr. Chapoulie was part of a stream of chefs, born and trained in France, who moved to Montreal after Expo 67, the city’s 1967 world’s fair. He professionalized and expanded the kitchen, affording cooks the space to butcher and make their own pastries and stocks.
“Joël worked in 14 restaurants in Montreal before here,” said Josée Préfontaine, a L’Express owner. “He was able to build a team of real cooks.”
With the hours extended to include breakfast, the menu grew larger, too. Roasted marrow bone, hanger steak and octopus and lentil salad are among the dishes Mr. Chapoulie and others say were new to Montreal when the chef added them to the menu.
“There was a lot of steak” in 1980s Montreal restaurants, Mr. Chapoulie said, “but not the hanger.”
The chef’s efforts to establish L’Express as a serious restaurant were helped by its wine list. When the restaurant first opened, the owners decided they would price all bottles a mere $7 over cost, angering competitors who were generally selling the same bottles for three times as much.
“In Montreal at that moment, you buy a Chateau Latour for $100, you sell it for $300,” Mr. Villeneuve said. “I found that so stupid. It’s the same job to open a Côtes du Rhône as it is to open a Chateau Latour.”
Colette Brossoit’s younger brother, Mario, has managed the bistro’s wine for nearly its entire existence. Longtime customers praise him for championing small producers and natural and biodynamic wines years before they were fashionable.
While prices have risen to account for cellaring costs and other factors, the wine list, which now draws from an 11,000-bottle collection, remains an attraction of its own, both for the quality of its selections, particularly from France, and its deals. Last month, the list featured a Roulot Auxey-Duresses Blanc 2016 and a magnum of Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2016 for just a shade over their retail prices in New York, after factoring in the exchange rate.
While he says he took classes on wine as a young man, Mr. Brossoit, 64, is not a sommelier. Nor is anyone else on the staff of L’Express.
“At every shift we open a bottle and taste it and talk about it,” said Philippe Michaud who, at 30, is one of the restaurant’s newest employees, though he has worked there 10 years.
A bartender, Claude Masson, 72, participates in those and other tastings, as he has since he started at the restaurant in 1983. “We do not have the vanity of a restaurant in France,” he said. “But we pride ourselves on being able to help you with whatever you need, especially wine.”
Monsieur Masson, as everyone calls him, is famous locally, both for his understated professionalism and his longevity. Mr. McMillan calls him a mentor.
“He’s still funny,” said Mr. Deshaies, a regular who was first served by Mr. Masson when a meal at L’Express cost less than $10. When Mr. Masson was young, he was quite magnetic, Mr. Deshaies said. “You should have seen him shaking the glasses for people’s birthday.”
In the 1990s, L’Express stood as an example of where Western fine dining was heading. Mr. Nasr was in New York, increasingly regarding the restaurant as “the most amazing, romantic embodiment” of the craft he was then honing at Daniel under the chef Daniel Boulud.
“Gastro pub” was working its way into the lexicon in Britain. In 1994, the Michelin Guide restored “bistro” as a category, partly in response to the versions that French chefs like Michel Rostang and Guy Savoy were opening as complements to their multistarred flagships.
Mr. McMillan, 48, credits L’Express for inspiring him to turn away from the ornamental French food he was making in his 20s. The bistro’s humble classicism is in the DNA of Joe Beef, Le Vin Papillon and the other acclaimed Montreal restaurants he went on to open with Allison Cunningham and the chef Fred Morin.
“I will never stop serving bistro French food. It’s what I do,” Mr. McMillan said. “We’re a French city in Canada.”
In recent years, there was concern here that L’Express’s days could be numbered. The death of Ms. Brossoit, described by Mr. Villeneuve as its “brains and heart,” was difficult. The menu is still written in her handwriting, thanks to technology that made a font out of her cursive.
This came during a time when the restaurant was struggling to fill the void left by Mr. Chapoulie’s retirement in 2012. The food quality dipped, and the chef was ultimately asked to return until an able replacement, Jean-François Vachon, was hired, in 2016.
“L’Express has never been identified with anybody. It’s not the chef’s restaurant, it’s not the owner’s restaurant,” Ms. Préfontaine said. “But customers did notice when Joël left.” She became an owner of L’Express a few months before Ms. Brossoit’s death, as did Mr. Brossoit and Hélène Dansereau, an employee since opening day.
Ms. Préfontaine, 40, who started as a L’Express server in 2005, proposed a solution to what appeared to be an inevitable succession problem. The other owners are in their 60s. None have children, and there was no one being groomed to usher L’Express into the future.
“I said that I wanted to makes sure that L’Express can continue, and that I would like to be the ange gardien” — the guardian angel, Ms. Préfontaine said.
Mr. Villeneuve said he and Ms. Brossoit trusted her not to alter the current property or succumb to the temptation to expand, either of which would violate their original vision of a play that never ends.
“We do it one time,” he said. “We never do it again.”
DAY ONE 12:30 p.m. I left Queens to follow my skydiving-instructor boyfriend to Mexico, where I’m working in sales. The honeymoon is so over. I badly need to move back.
DAY TWO 1 p.m. Find boyfriend flirting online with hot friend. I tell him he’s an asshole.
DAY THREE 8:15 a.m. I join My Future Ex-Boyfriend in the shower. I feel bad about breaking up, but love how he gets up on his toes before he has an orgasm.
DAY FOUR 4 a.m. Boyfriend comes home smelling like cheap stripper perfume but swears he didn’t get a lap dance. Tempted to smell balls to make sure nobody has been there.
DAY FIVE 8:30 a.m. Now I smell like the cheap stripper, too.
9:30 p.m. I trick him into admitting he did, in fact, get a lap dance, and go to bed sad about the distance between us. Need to make love with MFEB. It’s the second time I’ve ever cried during sex, and the first I’ve also had such a strong orgasm come with it. The universe is truly fucked up.
DAY SIX3:40 a.m. Had the most fun night ever with MFEB and happy we can enjoy the next few weeks before I move back home.
DAY SEVEN 8:25 a.m. I think we’ll part on a good note—there’s a lot of love. Quick oral sex to start his day right.
9 p.m. MFEB calls me a greedy bitch
12:30 a.m. Still crying.
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“I totally get the whole knowing-you’re-about- to-breakup-makes-hooking-up-awesome thing. Not sure why, though I think it stems from some fear of committment on my part.” By BAMBII
“The first mistake was following a skydiving instructor to Cabo.” BY THECHEESE