With dull eyes and open mouths, they crowd the streets and fill the restaurants. Some are teenagers, some are straight, some are gay, and far too many are married adults who would usually be found at home watching the television at night. They are the zombies of St. Valentine's Day, and they're just as miserable as they look.
Martin King—he hasn't used the "Dr." or "Luther" or "Jr." for decades now—is living proof that even legends can get tired of being legendary. Pacing his spartan office at MSNBC's studios at Rockefeller Center on a dreary Wednesday in mid-January, King is pecking a text message back to his daughter about dinner plans tonight. It is King's 85th birthday and his family and friends are holding a party at the forever popular Sylvia's in Harlem, but his first priority is his new 8 p.m. show on MSNBC.
It's so cold outside, on the freezing streets of Manhattan. Yet the dogs must have their walks. They are city dogs, after all, and it takes an army of dog-walkers to get these beasts out of the apartments at regular intervals. We headed up to Central Park West to meet America's most pampered canines, all dressed up in their winter coats. Here's our first NYC dog of winter, in his red knitted sweater. It's Oliver, the French Bulldog!
Samuel L. Jackson in sweats, "Toby" Maguire being told to keep his fucking mouth shut, Arcade Fire performing "Little Drummer Boy" like a whole bunch of weirdoes, terrible gifts, and a seemingly unending barrage of awkwardly inappropriate questions — what more could possibly ask for in a Christmas special?
Halloween digs itself out of the chilly autumn ground for a few weeks each year, too weird and primal for governments or religions to claim. It is an ancient pagan harvest festival and a leering plastic skeleton in a front-yard cemetery of styrofoam tombstones. It is candy and liquor, sex and death, and the only "moral lesson" of Halloween is a sneering threat from a child in the night: Give me mine or you'll get yours, mister. It is the only honest American holiday.
For centuries after his accidental discovery of the Bahamas, Christopher Columbus was a true hero of history. But then the alternative histories were published, and the colonization of the New World was revealed to be a nightmare of atrocity and terror. Still, we can learn something from this stubborn idiot who insisted until the day he died that Cuba was part of Asia.
Labor Day is a complete rip-off. Labor isn't celebrated at all—instead, a single day's break from labor is celebrated. You might think this is a stupid thing to care about, because Labor Day is really just about getting drunk in your yard, again. But that's actually evidence of this very successful con job pulled on you, the American worker (or unemployed person, or discouraged worker, or "grad student"). You probably don't even believe in Labor Day.