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The New York Times Magazine - 3 September 2017

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September 3, 2017
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NYTM_17_0903_SWD2.pgs 08.23.2017 17:09
September 3, 2017
First Words
Spin Cycle No one fails anymore — they ‘‘pivot.’’ In its open
cynicism, the word is tailor-made for a world where no one has
to pretend to care.
By Jacob Silverman
On Sports
Saber(metrics) Rattling Why are some stats — like baseball’s
‘‘exit velocity’’ this year — embraced more than others?
By Jay Caspian Kang
‘Everything Hurts’ He had lived with arthritis for decades,
but then suddenly the pain became unbearable. Was there
something else going on?
By Lisa Sanders, M.D.
Cover prop stylist: Gozde Eker. Lewandowski: Al Drago/Getty Images.
The Ethicist
Trust Issues The nanny has a gambling problem. Can you
fire her?
By Kwame Anthony Appiah
Letter of
High-Visibility Golf Balls If you want to improve at anything,
you need to know where your mistakes are leading you.
By Drew Millard
When Too Much Is Just Enough For great chicken-fried steak,
add queso gravy.
By Sam Sifton
Bozoma Saint John The chief brand officer for Uber wants to
humanize the company.
Interview by Ana Marie Cox
Behind the Cover Gail Bichler, design director: ‘‘This week’s cover story is about a new cast
of characters in Washington who are using their relationships to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign
as a ticket into the capital’s clubby influence industry. To underscore their outsider status —
and their sometimes unorthodox methods — we hit on the idea of a D.I.Y. flier.’’ Flier design by
Delcan & Company. Photo illustration by Sam Kaplan.
Continued on Page 4
The Thread
New Sentences
Judge John Hodgman
25 Tip
54 Puzzles
56 Puzzles
(Puzzle answers on Page 52)
Elaine Welteroth has taken on a seemingly impossible
task at Teen Vogue: reinventing the glossy magazine for a
hyperempathetic generation.
By Jazmine Hughes
The Bucks Start Here
How Trump’s presidency changed the rules of Washington
influence — and spawned a new breed of lobbyist on K Street.
By Nicholas Confessore
In the Line of Fire
By choice, for less than $2 an hour, the female inmate
firefighters of California work their bodies to the breaking point.
Sometimes they even risk their lives.
By Jaime Lowe
Democracy vs. Math
Sophisticated computer modeling has taken gerrymandering
to new extremes. To fix this, courts might have to learn how to
run the numbers themselves.
By Emily Bazelon
‘There are some days we are worn down to the core. And this
isn’t that different from slave conditions.’
Copyright © 2017 The New York Times
Female inmates fighting a fire in July in Mariposa County, Calif.
Photograph by Peter Bohler for The New York Times.
September 3, 2017
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Jazmine Hughes
Page 28
Editor in Chief
Deputy Editors
Jazmine Hughes is an associate editor for the
magazine. She has written for The New Yorker,
The New York Times, Elle and New York magazine.
Writing a story about the evolution of Teen Vogue
and what consumers expect from teen magazines,
she says, was particularly satisfying. ‘‘When I
was 13, I had not a single other interest besides
reading magazines,’’ she said. ‘‘I subscribed to
several, but I would often go to the library and
check out armfuls more. The library’s copies
always got mixed in with my personal collection,
so I rarely returned them. This habit incurred
many fines, unfortunately.’’
Managing Editor
Design Director
Director of Photography
Art Director
Features Editor
Politics Editor
Story Editors
Photographed by Kathy Ryan at The New York Times
on July 31, 2017, at 10:09 a.m.
‘‘Democracy vs. Math,’’
Page 48
Special Projects Editor
Associate Editors
Emily Bazelon
Chief National Correspondent
Staff Writers
Emily Bazelon is a staff writer for the magazine
and the Truman Capote fellow at Yale Law
School. She last wrote about prosecutors who
withhold evidence.
Nicholas Confessore
‘‘The Bucks Start Here,’’
Page 32
Nicholas Confessore is a political investigative
reporter for The Times and a writer at large for
the magazine. He last wrote about the offshore
financial system.
Writers at Large
‘‘In the Line of Fire,’’
Page 40
Jaime Lowe
Jaime Lowe is a frequent contributor to the
magazine. She is the author of ‘‘Mental: Lithium,
Love, and Losing My Mind,’’ to be published
by Blue Rider Press in October.
David Carr Fellow
Deputy Art Director
Digital Art Director
Special Projects Art Director
Deputy Photo Editor
Associate Photo Editors
Jacob Silverman
First Words,
Page 11
Jacob Silverman is the author of ‘‘Terms of Service:
Social Media and the Price of Constant
Connection.’’ He last wrote for the magazine
about smart devices.
Virtual Reality Editor
Copy Chief
Copy Editors
Dear Reader: What If Youth
Wasn’t Wasted on the Young?
Every week the magazine publishes the results of
a study conducted online in June 2017 by The New
York Times’s research-and-analytics department,
reflecting the opinions of 2,903 subscribers who
chose to participate. This week’s question: If you
could live for 200 years in a healthy young body, but
with an old person’s brain, would you do it?
36% Yes
32% No
Head of Research
Research Editors
32% Maybe
Production Chief
Production Editors
Editorial Assistant
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The Thread
Readers respond to the 8.20.2017 issue.
Wil S. Hylton wrote about the internal machinations of Breitbart News.
Every American who is concerned
with the state of our nation should read
Breitbart to understand what is actually going on in the Trump White House.
(That and The National Enquirer.) These
publications are filled with hate and discrimination against Americans, and they
promulgate and support the lies being
issued by Trump. It isn’t just what they
print that is at issue. It is their role in
sycophantic endorsement of Trump’s
lies and outrageous behavior, which
only serves to encourage him. As long as
there is one publication or website that
will always put a ridiculous positive spin
on Trump’s actions, he will continue.
We have a free press, but these are
fringe publications that have somehow
taken center stage in forming and supporting the ideology of the Trump White
House. Removing Miller and Gorka
from the White House would go a long
way to blunting the corrosive influence
of these publications.
William O. Beeman, Minneapolis
in particular. The scope of that access was
indeed impressive. I wish I could say the
same of the resulting article.
Alexander Nazaryan, Berkeley, Calif.
and other extremists with intellectual
vigor. America has no room for bigotry,
but violence is not the answer.
B. H., Boston, on
Beautiful work! I
love the nostalgic
reflection of old
spy movies and the
baroque attributes.
I started visiting Breitbart regularly after
the election, but now I check it usually at
least daily. Mostly I just read the headlines, but if I see something about a topic
that is ignored or de-emphasized by the
left-wing media, I look at what Breitbart
has to report about it. The site is not particularly extreme. But its readers are, and
the unfiltered comments under every
article make Breitbart look nuttier than
its own content merits. You could say this
is by design, but you could also say that it
just really champions free speech.
G. S., Berlin, on
As a highly indignant woman and lifelong competitive talker, I am deeply troubled that anyone can equate a fist to the
face with words. I am more troubled that
such sentiment makes it ever more difficult to have thoughtful discussion about
difficult issues. Trump’s only potentially
positive (if unintentional) contribution
appears to me to be that he has caused
many scabs to be torn off. We have the
opportunity to talk about issues we have
pretended for a long time were not issues
needing discussion. It would be a mistake to miss that opportunity because too
many of us are in a dither over bringing
up a topic that will cause us to be branded
as anathema to our side.
Ruth Kaser, Roseburg, Ore., on
Photograph by Mark Peterson/Redux
Amanda Hess wrote about the political tactic
of framing the other side as ‘‘violent.’’
Wil S. Hylton takes a meanspirited, gratuitous swipe at my Newsweek cover story
on Breitbart News, implying that I did
not have an understanding of Breitbart’s
‘‘internal machinery.’’
I have no idea how Hylton gauged
my understanding of Breitbart, since he
never bothered to ask me whom I did or
didn’t talk to at the right-wing news site.
I suppose Hylton’s intent was to tout his
own access to Breitbart, and to Marlow
The late Justice Potter Stewart of the
Supreme Court used ‘‘I know it when I
see it’’ to determine obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio. Rational people understand
the world is not black and white. While
some ideas are sacrosanct, equivocation
is more sophistical than philosophical.
Can one be intolerant to people espousing an extreme worldview? It is about
context and responses.
I walked away from supporting the
A.C.L.U. 30 years ago because of its mindless adherence to free speech without
context. (Until now, when the immigration issue is too important not to re-engage the organization financially.) I am
happy it has had second thoughts about
mindless support of free speech. Still, in
my opinion one should defeat the Nazis
An article on Aug. 13 about a fraternity hazing death misstated the name and location of
a public school in New York City. It is Junior
High School 185 in Flushing, Queens; there is
no Middle School 185 in Bayside.
‘Can one
be intolerant
to people
espousing an
Illustrations by Giacomo Gambineri
The credits for illustrations with the Diagnosis column on Aug. 20 misidentified the
illustrator. The illustrations are by Andreas
Samuelsson, not James Joyce.
An article on Aug. 20 about Breitbart News
misstated the religious affiliation of a British
anti-extremist activist named Maajid Nawaz.
He is a former Islamist, not an ex-Muslim.
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First Words
No one fails anymore — they ‘pivot.’ In its open cynicism, the word is tailor-made for a world
where no one has to pretend to care. By Jacob Silverman
Spin Cycle
Last month, the right-wing media personality Mike Cernovich
announced that he was conducting a ‘‘big pivot’’ away from the fringes
of the news ecosystem. The move was unexpected, as Cernovich had
carved out a comfortable niche for himself — railing against coastal
elites and feminism, peddling conspiracy theories and self-help books.
But Cernovich appeared to have decided that it was ‘‘bad for business’’
to, for example, keep pushing rumors of pedophilia in the Democratic
leadership. Instead he wanted to capitalize on the relationships he had
developed with Trump-administration officials in order to present
himself as a new kind of journalist. ¶ Cernovich’s announcement
may have seemed like typical digital-age image management, but a
few days after his declaration, a somewhat generous profile appeared
on the website of New York magazine. Its (admittedly tongue-incheek) headline: ‘‘Mike Cernovich Pivots From Pizzagate to NotSo-Fake News.’’ In the article, Cernovich told the magazine that he
was a ‘‘nonfiction writer,’’ which may have been news to the various
enemies he has casually accused of being child abusers, or to Hillary
First Words
Clinton, who Cernovich claimed during
the election cycle was suffering from a
terminal illness. While acknowledging
Cernovich’s toxic history, the article still
gave him credit for his ability to break
news from Trump’s advisers. And like
that, the pivot was complete. Cernovich
had changed his narrative by announcing his intention to do so.
The ‘‘pivot’’ has assumed a peculiar
place in our common lexicon. A word
once used to describe a guard angling
for position on the basketball court is
now in wide circulation in politics and
business. That’s especially the case in Silicon Valley, where pivoting has become
the new failure, a concept to describe a
haphazard, practically madcap form of
iterative development. With its sheen of
management-speak, pivoting is well suited
to our moment. And like any act of public
relations, pivoting is also a performance.
A key part of the act is acknowledging that
you are doing it while trying to recast the
effort as something larger, more sophisticated, highly planned. The pivot, though
it arises from desperation, is nevertheless
supposed to appear methodical.
The word seems to have first gained
currency in Silicon Valley through the
efforts of Eric Ries, author of ‘‘The Lean
Startup.’’ Ries defines pivoting as ‘‘a
change in strategy without a change in
vision.’’ Many successful start-ups now
claim a pivot as their origin story. Slack
began its life as a video-game company before realizing that its actual value
might lie in a chat app the company used
to communicate internally. The company
is now considered to be worth at least $5
billion, putting it among the most successful pivoters of all time. (Other web
staples — YouTube, Groupon, Instagram
— began life in vastly different iterations
before pivoting into their current forms.)
There’s a promise of technocratic efficiency with pivoting, that all you require
is a good business plan, and perhaps
another injection of venture capital, and
you can transform yourself overnight.
It was inevitable that the word would
eventually creep outward from Silicon Valley. Recently, it has found a home in online
media, where pivoting is now seriously
in vogue. Following the cue of Mashable,
Vocativ and other digital outlets, Cory
Haik, the publisher of Mic, announced
her company’s pivot in August. Haik
acknowledged that Mic was acting out
‘‘the much-lamented and much-snarkedabout . . . ‘pivot to video.’ ’’ For the uninitiated, this entails essentially dumping
your editorial staff in favor of cheaply
produced, shareable videos favored by
advertisers and newsfeed algorithms. This
is precisely what Mic did — the company
laid off 25 editors and writers — but Haik
claimed that this time was different, that
this move was part of a greater transformation, namely ‘‘the early stages of a visual
revolution in journalism.’’ Mic wasn’t just
pivoting to survive, according to its publisher; it was doing so because it saw great
opportunity — and ad dollars — in another
medium. Or at least, these are the promises peddled to worried shareholders and
disaffected media critics.
Illustration by Derek Brahney
Like any act of
public relations,
pivoting is also
a performance.
The pivot may be a tech-age phenomenon, but it has an antecedent in another
rhetorical maneuver favored by Beltway
types: ‘‘evolving’’ on an issue. Once politicians would emptily pretend to have
thought about an issue and ‘‘evolved’’
toward a new position, even as it was
obvious to all observers that the move
was strategic. (Barack Obama’s evolution
on gay marriage is the ne plus ultra here.)
Now politicians are freer to be openly
cynical; like the business pivot, the political pivot is a product of expediency and
pragmatism, rather than of some shift
in deeply held ideals. The political pivot
is more obviously compromised, focusgrouped, more of a performance about
changing ‘‘optics’’ or a media narrative.
Illustration by Kyle Hilton
Which brings us to Donald Trump, a
man who many commentators believe to
be constitutionally incapable of pivoting.
Indeed, it does now seem very unlikely
that some urgent event could foment a
shift to a more mature, presidential attitude on the part of our splenetic, unpredictable commander in chief. At age 71,
Trump has proved himself incapable
of change, at least in the eyes of most
credible observers. ‘‘He didn’t pivot;
he merely pirouetted, and then he dug
into the same political ground he has
already claimed,’’ John Cassidy wrote in
The New Yorker after Trump’s relatively
sober Feb. 28 speech to Congress — a
description that could be applied to all of
Trump’s flirtations with polite behavior.
Members of the never-Trump right also
gave up on the pivot idea long ago: ‘‘We
are in the last days of the ‘He can pivot!’
fantasy,’’ Jonah Goldberg wrote last year
in National Review.
But the truth is that Trump is pivoting
constantly. Or perhaps more accurately,
the man is so erratic that he has no baseline of behavior against which to pivot.
For instance, Trump seemed to change
his mind last month on the war in Afghanistan, adopting a very Obama-like policy
of deploying more troops into the country. While he once presented himself as
against nation-building, Trump as commander in chief has proved amenable to
any number of military adventures placed
in front of him. That he now approves
of the extension of the 16-year war in
Afghanistan can be explained by his taste
for violence and his deep attention to how
he is treated by the media, who have
mostly lauded the move. If pivoting is a
media phenomenon as much as any kind
of grand strategy, then Trump owes credit to a credulous press that tends to grant
the mantle of maturity to any president
who decides to bomb another nation.
A cynical gesture for a cynical age,
pivoting is designed for a public sphere
where bad faith is a given and attention,
of any kind, is the ultimate commodity.
Trump knows how to profit from the
attention economy, but he is not playing
the multidimensional chess with which
his enemies (and allies) occasionally credit him. Instead, he seems to be a creature
of pure id, making impulsive, superficial
decisions based on what he sees around
himself. Trump sometimes changes his
mind, but he rarely manages to act in any
strategic sense. The mistake the media
sometimes make is crediting Trump with
strategic brilliance when he’s capable of
nothing of the sort. But it can seem as if
Trump’s behavior is so venal, so beyond
pale and precedent, that it must reflect
some kind of plan. Who would act this
way otherwise?
Trump’s innovation is to have mined
a deeper vein of cynicism, exhausting
The political
pivot is a product
of expediency,
rather than of
any deeply held
the weary tropes of polite political discourse. He is the ultimate pivoter, aimlessly following his own impulses as his
administration is mired in daily absurdities. In Trump, the hopelessness and
institutional gridlock of our system find
their efflorescence; his nihilistic malleability lays bare the fact that all our politicians’ supposedly canny pivots are, at
root, pivots to nowhere.
New Sentences By Sam Anderson
‘To turn 40 is to realize that one’s limitations will last
one’s whole life through, but also to know that all the
time, whether one likes it or not, and whether one is
aware of it or not, new layers are being added to one’s
character, a type of knowledge and insight that isn’t
directed towards the future, towards what will come to
pass or one day be accomplished, but towards the here
and now, in the things you do every day, in what you
think about them and what you understand of them.’
From Karl Ove
‘‘Autumn’’ (Penguin
Press, 2017, Page
132), translated by
Ingvild Burkey from
the Norwegian.
Karl Ove Knausgaard frames aging
here as a kind of descent into
Buddhism: the mindful enlightenment
of marinating in the now. His new
book is, accordingly, a series of short
meditations on everyday things like
plastic bags, frogs and war. (‘‘War
is both the simple shape of the
arrowhead and the complicated life
that it annihilates.’’)
I happened to turn 40 last week,
and Knausgaard’s claim rings true for
me. In my teens and 20s, I used to
dream constantly about future glory.
What kind of person was I, and what
kind of person could I turn myself into,
and where would I end up, and what
would all of that say about what kind
of person I was, and what kind of
person I could become, and on and on?
As a middle-aged man, I have come
to accept that very little of life involves
exceptional achievement, or even
individuality. So much is simply
accumulation. My current concept
of heroism hardly qualifies as such:
It involves getting out of bed when
my alarm goes off, flossing,
walking the dog, washing a dirty
dish immediately after using it.
On the same evening that I read
Knausgaard’s sentence about
turning 40, I brushed my 10-year-old
son’s long wet hair after he took a
shower and, even though I am the
worst in the family at hair-brushing,
and my son had a sneer on his face
the whole time, bracing for pain, I
somehow managed not to hurt him
and even, in the end, left a perfect
part in the middle of his hair — a trick
I had never been able to do before.
Perhaps, even in old age, heroism is
not impossible.
Why are some stats — like baseball’s
‘exit velocity’ this year — embraced
more than others?
Photo illustration by Cristiana Couceiro
For the casual, uninitiated baseball fan
who tunes in every once in a while, this
season’s home-run calls must sound as
baffling as a Pentecostal sermon to an
unbeliever. A baseball broadcast is, as
much as anything, a string of synonyms
in a familiar, comforting cadence. Words
like ‘‘dinger,’’ ‘‘laser’’ and ‘‘punchado’’
take years to embed themselves into the
game’s collective vocabulary, and there’s
a graveyard full of home-run and strikeout
calls that failed to do so or have fallen out
of fashion. (My favorite among the dead:
the understated yet effective ‘‘tater’’ for a
home run.) Statistics have an even harder
time gaining mainstream acceptance, so
it must be strange for a newbie to tune
in to a Yankees game this year and see
Aaron Judge, baseball’s largest son, hit
a towering shot into the bleachers and
hear the commentator say something like,
‘‘Wow, that ball traveled out of here with
an exit velocity of 115.3 miles per hour!’’
Judge, who has become a star this season and a major focus of some emerging
statistical language, currently boasts the
highest percentage of batted balls whose
exit velocity exceeds 95 miles an hour.
And according to Statcast, a network
of cameras and fussy sensors that track
nearly every movement on a baseball
field, Judge’s home run against the Orioles in June that played on a weeklong
loop on social media traveled 495 feet.
(A blast hit in July by Whit Merrifield,
the Kansas City Royals’ second baseman,
was reputed to have gone 561 feet — just
four feet shy of Mickey Mantle’s apocryphal 565-footer in 1953! — but was largely
dismissed as a Statcast error, because it
is pretty much impossible for anyone,
especially middle infielders, to hit a baseball that far.)
Judge, a rookie right fielder, is not
only one of the top producers in the
categories of exit velocity and home-run
distance; he leads the American League
in home runs too. For a vast majority of
baseball fans, the differences between
these ways of describing what Judge
is doing don’t really matter — at least
not yet. Exit velocity and home-run
distance can be thought of as ways to
quantify how hard a player hits the ball.
These calculations — along with another stat, launch angle, which describes
the gradient at which a ball leaves a bat
— mostly provide a sense of how much
influence a batter exerts over the path of
Next Week: On Photography, by Teju Cole
Judge: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire, via Getty Images
On Sports By Jay Caspian Kang
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a baseball. But the ‘‘HR’’ as a stat roughly
captures the same thing, plus it tells you
the outcome. Balls smashed with high
exit velocities and high launch angles
can still turn into outs.
On most fronts, the decades-long war
over how to best explain what happens on
a baseball field has been won decisively
by the nerds; analytics, also known as
sabermetrics by baseball people, have
definitively changed the way teams build
rosters. But even though fewer baseball
writers, managers and players crankily
dismiss analytics, statistics like FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, which tries
to measure a pitcher’s effectiveness by
taking into account the fallibility of his
teammates in the field) and UZR (Ultimate
Zone Rating, one of several attempts to
quantify defensive performance) don’t
get a lot of prime real estate on the Jumbotrons. Nor do they generate much discussion on sports talk radio, where ideas
like ‘‘locker-room presence’’ and ‘‘clutch
hitter’’ still prevail.
Baseball isn’t the only sport that suffers from this disconnect between how
its top evaluators see the game and how
fans do. Cameras that track players’
movements have also been installed in
Photo illustration by Cristiana Couceiro
Jay Caspian Kang
is a writer at large for
the magazine.
N.B.A. arenas, for example. But while
the data they generate — like the total
mileage a player runs in a game or the
frequency with which he drives to the
basket — have helped coaches and team
executives better evaluate talent and
performance, these stats still remain
abstractions to most spectators. So why
has exit velocity, which doesn’t really
seem to tell us anything we can’t see
with the naked eye, spread so quickly,
including to video scoreboards in several major league ballparks and the commentary on highlight shows? Or to put it
more broadly, why do some stats catch
Judge: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
On Sports
Poem Selected by Terrance Hayes
on while others stagger off into the cemetery of useless acronyms?
‘‘Bill James had a great line,’’ Tom Tango,
the senior database architect of stats for
MLB Advanced Media, told me. (If James
is largely considered the godfather of
sabermetrics, Tango could be its Michael
Corleone.) ‘‘If you have a metric that
never matches up with the eye test, it’s
probably wrong. And if it never surprises
you, it’s probably useless. But if four out
of five times it tells you what you know,
and one of out five it surprises you, you
might have something.’’
As the fight between the quants and
the traditionalists has worn on for the past
30 years or so, small but consistent concessions have been made on each side.
Old baseball heads grumpily admitted
that walks were probably better than
sacrifice bunts and that the number of
wins shouldn’t be the main criterion for
a starting pitcher. And the quants began
to think of ways their work could match
up better with what was seen on the field.
Tango’s job is to take data and turn it into
baseball stats that not only capture what’s
actually happening on a baseball field but
also engage the average fan. Exit velocity is
really not all that new — radar guns trained
on pitch speed have long been able to pick
up the speed with which the ball leaves
the bat. But nobody thought much about
it until a few years ago, when a handful of
teams started installing camera and radar
systems to track action on the field better,
like an outfielder’s speed to a fly ball or how
quickly a ball leaves the park. The popularity of exit velocity this season has been
reinforced by circumstance — barring a
severe outbreak of anemia, major league
batters will hit more home runs this season
than any other year on record. Judge’s firsthalf power surge and the almost comical
distance many of his shots have traveled
demanded some better metric that could
stand in for exclamation points.
As part of his work, Tango takes raw
data from Statcast and tries to figure out
how to create appealing statistics that
satisfy the ‘‘four out of five’’ rule. The
exit-velocity numbers were compelling
enough and showed that there seemed to
be a cutoff point at which a hard-hit ball
usually turned into a base hit. But the data
also showed that the chances of a ball leaving the ballpark were dependent on the
launch angle — roughly speaking, a ball
that leaves that bat faster than 95 miles
an hour at a launch angle between 25 and
30 degrees will usually clear the outfield
wall. (That same ball hit at 12 degrees will
most likely result in a sharp line drive.)
Tango knew that there would be no
easy way to get the public to embrace
some wonky combination of launch angle
and exit velocity. So, in more accessible
terms, he created a stat that evokes how
many times a batter hits the ball on the
barrel of the bat. But technically speaking,
‘‘barrels’’ counts the number of times a
player hits the ball over 98 miles an hour
at an angle that will result in a hit more
than half the time.
In the 40 years that have passed since
James published his first treatise on baseball statistics, the debate between the
quants and the traditionalists has been
dour and joyless. The nerds yell about
objective truth; the cranky aesthetes praise
‘‘putting the ball in play’’ and ‘‘gritting out
wins.’’ Sabermetric advances, as a result,
tend to feel like tablets being handed down
from the mount. Nobody has fully figured
out how to turn sabermetric innovations
into a more exciting product on the field.
Barrels and exit velocity already have
had an effect on how teams rank players,
and Tango and his colleagues will continue to figure out ways to apply new
data sets in their player evaluations, but
exit velocity’s staying power in popular
culture may ultimately hinge on how it’s
packaged and pushed out to the public.
It is a fun stat, perhaps the only metric
developed post-‘‘Moneyball’’ that hasn’t
been explained to the public in a condescending whine. The terms are simple and consistent with what most fans
already know — a pitcher with a reliable
95-miles-an-hour fastball throws hard;
a batter whose exit velocity regularly
reaches 98 miles an hour hits the ball hard.
Anything over 100 is worthy of attention.
(Round numbers, as always, rule.) And
unlike catchall measures of a player’s
value, whether Wins Above Replacement
(WAR) or Value Over Replacement Player
(VORP), exit velocity is free of the stink
of the actuarial tables deployed by team
executives, or worse, fantasy-baseball
players. It simply confirms, on a repeating, easily digestible basis, what you see
on the field. And unlike on-base percentage (OBP), which rewards the boring walk,
exit velocity coincides with something
most fans come to the ballpark to see.
This poem by the poet and novelist Laura Kasischke channels
the sort of folkish fable Borges and Calvino would adore. The
houses like crooked teeth, the three old wives, the magical plants
and animals — every sentence takes a wicked, delightful turn.
Kasischke’s shrewd poetic efficiency is no easy feat. For example,
try reading the poem without that shirt on the laundry line
sentence. Can you see how much ‘‘electrocuted’’ darkens and
charges the whole, extraordinary poem?
The Widows’ Neighborhood
By Laura Kasischke
The houses are like crooked teeth, all
up and down this street. A man’s
empty shirt dances, electrocuted
on a laundry line. In
broad daylight, garbage cans full
of flies, and three old wives with only
one old husband
between them. They
call him
Silence, and take turns slicing
his meat
into such thin pieces
he doesn’t even
know he’s eating.
In the garden, a mandrake
has been planted. The root
of it, of course, is
shaped like a little man. Being
pulled out of the ground, it
shrieks — and this sound
is always followed
by the arrival
of an unexpected wolf, or lion.
Terrance Hayes is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently ‘‘How
to Be Drawn,’’ which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2015. His fourth
collection, ‘‘Lighthead,’’ won the 2010 National Book Award. Laura Kasischke
is the author of 11 works of fiction and 10 poetry collections, including ‘‘Where Now:
New and Selected Poems,’’ published in July by Copper Canyon Press.
Illustration by R. O. Blechman
Diagnosis By Lisa Sanders, M.D.
He had lived with arthritis for
decades, but then suddenly the pain
became unbearable. Was
there something else going on?
‘‘Hey, Doc,’’ the red-faced, white-haired
man said, smiling up from the hospital
bed. ‘‘What are you going to do for me?
This is killing me.’’
The man was taken by ambulance to
the hospital the day before. At 72, he had
his share of medical problems. His heart
was bad, and arthritis had forced him to
have joints in his hip, knees and ankle
replaced. He had obstructive sleep apnea
and was maybe 100 pounds overweight.
Still, he tried not to let that slow him
down. He had to use a cane, and sometimes even a walker, but he was up and
active every day.
Or he had been, until a few days earlier, when everything started to hurt.
Initially it was just his right wrist and
right elbow. Then it was his right leg.
After feeling jagged shots of pain in his
back with any movement at all, he took
to his bed. When he told his wife that he
hurt too much to get up, even to go to the
bathroom, she called 911. As he got out of
bed and into the ambulance, he howled
with pain in a way she’d never heard.
A Stoic Patient
‘‘He never complains — never,’’ the man’s
wife told the doctors in the emergency
room of the Veterans Administration
Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala. She
knew he needed to be in the hospital, she
told the doctor. If he couldn’t walk, she
just couldn’t take care of him at home.
The hospital admitted him for what was
assumed to be a flare-up of his chronic osteoarthritis. The plan was to help
control his pain and then refer him to
short-term rehab and possibly long-term
placement in a nursing home if he didn’t
improve enough to go home.
Dr. Gustavo Heudebert, who led the
team caring for the patient, saw him
the next morning. The elderly man had
a big smile and an easy demeanor. He
certainly didn’t look sick, though he lay
unnaturally still in the bed. As the doctor
shook the man’s hand, he saw him grimace. Does your hand hurt you? ‘‘Doc,
everything hurts me.’’
Warm Joints
Heudebert began his exam, as he always
did, with the patient’s hands. He noticed
that the man’s right wrist was warm and
tender. He couldn’t move his right ankle.
Illustration by Andreas Samuelsson
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The right knee was quite swollen, though
not red. Normally the area over the kneecap is cooler than the rest of the leg, but
the patient’s was warm to the touch.
Heudebert gently pushed down on the
kneecap. He could feel it sink slowly
through the fluid-filled space above the
knee until it bumped up against the joint.
That slight contact drew a yelp of pain.
The left knee was also swollen, though
not as much. And it, too, was warm. As
was the right ankle.
Heudebert suspected this pain was
not just the man’s osteoarthritis. The
fact that these joints all got worse at the
same time suggested that it was something systemic. Could an infection have
started in one joint — maybe his knee
— and spread to others? His knee was
swollen and warm. And it was an artificial knee, which is far more likely to
become infected than a natural joint. But
he really did not look as sick as someone
would with even one infected joint.
Or could this be gout instead? The
man had risk factors for gout. It’s more
common in older men who are overweight and have high blood pressure
or take diuretics. And this patient had
all of the above. But usually gout attacks
only one joint — typically the one at the
base of the big toe — causing excruciating pain, as well as redness and significant swelling. His toes were the only
part of his lower body where he didn’t
have pain or swelling. And nothing was
particularly red.
In any case, the best way to find out
what the patient had was to take some
of the fluid from his enlarged, fluid-filled
knee. Heudebert reached out to his
friend and colleague, Angelo Gaffo,
the rheumatologist on call. Gaffo was
reluctant to stick a needle into the fluid
around the artificial knee. A procedure
like that can find an infection, but it can
also cause one by introducing bacteria
at the puncture site.
a thick, milky substance was extracted.
Under the microscope he saw sheets of tiny,
needlelike crystals. The patient had gout.
Once known as ‘‘the disease of kings,’’
gout was first identified by the Egyptians
some 4,600 years ago but was not well
understood until the last century. It is
now recognized as a buildup of uric
acid, a waste product of a diet rich in
meat and alcohol. When intake of these
foods exceeds the body’s ability to eliminate their waste, uric acid accumulates
in the bloodstream, a condition known
as hyperuricemia. Eventually this excess
waste can form small, sharp crystals,
which clump together. When deposited
in the soft tissues, they form painless
nodules called tophi — like the limabean bump on the man’s wrist. But when
deposited in the joint space, these crystals cause the terrible pain, swelling and
inflammation of gout. Heudebert started
the man on methylprednisolone, a steroid medication that can reduce the pain
and swelling of gout rapidly.
Lisa Sanders, M.D.,
is a contributing writer
for the magazine
and the author of ‘‘Every
Patient Tells a Story:
Medical Mysteries and
the Art of Diagnosis.’’
If you have a solved
case to share with Dr.
Sanders, write her at
Following a Hunch
Heudebert wondered why this disease
— which normally starts in one joint
and spreads from there over the course
of decades — could emerge in so widespread a fashion in this man. Thinking
about all the possible causes of gout, he
came up with a theory.
An Ancient Ailment
Gaffo examined the man’s body carefully.
On the edge of his right wrist, the doctor
found a nodule, a little larger than a lima
bean. It was firm and had the texture of a
well-filled sandbag. Gaffo suspected that
this nodule would be a clue to what was
causing the man’s pain. He watched as a
needle was inserted into the nodule and
Illustration by Andreas Samuelsson
The next morning, the patient was
sitting up on the edge of the bed when
Heudebert came by. ‘‘Doc!’’ The patient
greeted him with enthusiasm. ‘‘I’m a new
man!’’ The steroids already seemed to be
working. He hadn’t walked yet but was
looking forward to trying.
Heudebert shifted uncomfortably.
He had to ask a question that he worried might offend the man. ‘‘Have you
ever drunk moonshine?’’ The patient
looked surprised, and Heudebert felt a
pang of anxiety shoot through him. He
was offended. ‘‘Doc, how did you know?’’
It turned out that the man had downed
more than his share of the alcohol. His
father was a bootlegger, and he’d drunk
it most of his adult life. But his last drop
of moonshine had been maybe 35 years
before. Why did he ask?
Unexpected Dangers of Moonshine
Moonshine — the colloquial term for
the illegal homemade liquor distilled
from corn or other grains — often contains high levels of lead. This dangerous
substance leaches into the drink from
the salvaged car parts in which it is frequently made. Once consumed, lead
spreads through the body, infiltrating
tissues from red blood cells, to organs,
to bone. It can interfere with many normal bodily functions at the cellular level,
even years later, and can damage the
kidneys, making it difficult to get rid of
uric acid. Moonshine consumption, past
or present, is a big risk factor for gout.
And this man’s symptoms — advanced
gout in many joints — are typical in those
exposed to moonshine.
Gaffo started the patient on a medicine
that allowed the kidneys to do a better job
of ridding the body of uric acid. Reducing the hyperuricemia reduces the risk of
another attack of gout. Over time it could
even get rid of the deposits of gouty crystals in the joints and soft tissues.
When Heudebert came to see the
patient the next day, his third day on
steroids, the man lumbered to his feet.
‘‘Doc, look at me — I can do the twist!’’
And sure enough, the man began to twist
back and forth in a remarkable version of
the 1960s dance. He didn’t go to shortterm rehab — he didn’t need to. At home,
he has come to rely a little more on his
walker and cane. But, he tells me, he can
still dance.
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The Ethicist By Kwame Anthony Appiah
My Nanny Has
A Gambling
Problem. Can I
Fire Her?
I recently discovered that one of my live-in
nannies has a serious gambling problem.
Now I know why she always comes home
way past curfew and is always short of
money. I have never witnessed her stealing
anything from us, and our children are
very attached to her, but she is four years
away from retirement, and I fear the day
will come when she realizes she has no
savings and will do something drastic.
My friends are telling me to fire her, that
it’s not worth the risk. But I feel I would
be penalizing her for something she hasn’t
done, and I know it will be nearly impossible
for her to get another job at her age. On the
flip side, we have had some discipline issues
with her, and she is responsible for her own
retirement. I don’t owe her a living. Should
I keep her on or should I let her go?
While you have an established relationship with her that entails obligations, they
don’t extend to solving her problems or
ignoring the fact that she isn’t keeping to
the terms of her employment. But aside
from whatever legal requirements are set
by your country, she does have morally
legitimate expectations that you’ll give
her reasonable notice; or that you’ll pay
her for a period in lieu of that notice, so
she may find somewhere else to live.
Before you go all ‘‘Minority Report’’ on
this pre-pilfering employee, though, you
owe her a candid conversation about your
concerns. Talk to her about her current
problem and make it clear that you can
keep her around only if she addresses it.
Given your family’s established relationship with her, this would be the decent
and compassionate way to proceed.
I own a small clothing store with a business
partner; we have two employees. Recently,
four people came into the shop and made
off with a few items from a particular
brand. We’ve had other attempts at theft
and credit-card fraud involving items
of the same brand. In all these incidents,
the individuals were black.
My business partner and I would like
to speak to our employees about these
incidents as neither of them were present
when the theft occurred. Of course, we’re
going to encourage them to be vigilant about
any interactions involving this particular
brand. But is it appropriate for me to
mention that every individual who has stolen
or attempted to steal items of this brand
has been black? My intent is only to point
out a pattern, but can I do so without
encouraging discriminatory practices or
profiling? Or does noting the race of
the individuals render moot my message
that anyone asking for this brand should
be watched carefully?
I am Chinese, my business partner and
one employee are Caucasian and the
second employee is Ghanaian. I don’t think
our racial makeup matters, but I thought
I would mention it.
Name Withheld
Your question reminds us how salient
racial identities are to the way we respond
to strangers. If the offenders had all worn
nose rings or wristbands, you might not
have stored that information. And I would
guess that wearing those things goes with
certain brand preferences in clothing as
much as race does. Still, it’s great that you
don’t want to be unfair to your black customers. After all, most of them, like most
of those who aren’t black, are not thieves.
Treating a whole class of customers with
extra vigilance means you’ll mostly be
focusing on innocent people. In a society where black people already face extra
burdens, it’s especially unfortunate to
add to them if you can avoid it. So you’re
weighing two issues: You want to avoid
adding to that burden, but you also want
to help your employees do their jobs.
To think about this, let’s start with
the fact that shoplifting (and credit-card
fraud) are pretty common. One study
Name Withheld, Singapore
Illustration by Tomi Um
Bonus Advice From Judge John Hodgman
Nicholas writes: My wife had an insane childhood. Her father
made her sneak into other people’s gardens to steal orchids
so he could sell them. A family friend would come and go, with
tales of faking Scud missile launches in Iraq. Not to mention
long-ago connections with the Crowninshields, the money long
run out. She doesn’t want to embarrass her relatives. But I
think she should write a book.
This court will never compel someone to write a memoir.
Frankly, there are enough of them (including my own,
‘‘Vacationland,’’ coming this October). I’m fascinated, however,
by your wife’s childhood. You may even have created a
new literary genre: microbiography. Maybe you should write
another 70-word chapter, bringing us up to the present.
Quick edit: The line about the Crowninshield family a) doesn’t
make sense, and b) is not a sentence.
Illustration by Kyle Hilton
To submit a query:
Send an email to
.com; or send mail
to The Ethicist, The
New York Times
Magazine, 620
Eighth Avenue, New
York, N.Y. 10018.
(Include a daytime
phone number.)
If you were writing from the United
States, I would want to know about your
nanny’s immigration status and her family situation and whether you are paying
the employment taxes you should be
paying. Those are common issues here.
I know that Singapore requires permits
for foreign domestic workers and doesn’t
allow them to retire there. But I still have
questions. Does she reasonably expect to
be employed until retirement? Have you
talked to her about her gambling problem
and suggested she get involved with an
organization like Gamblers’ Anonymous?
These are some of the things I don’t
know. Here’s what I do know: You have
someone living in your house and looking
after your children whom you don’t trust.
suggested that United States retailers lost
nearly $18 billion to shoplifting in 2016.
Keeping an eye on customers is, sadly,
a necessity. But as you say, you could
encourage your employees to do so with
or without adding information about the
color of the offender. So what would be
gained by mentioning it?
You say that one brand of clothing
has been the focus of attempts at theft
by some number of black customers. But
it could turn out that, given the general
incidence of shoplifting, hypervigilance
when it comes to one brand and one kind
of customer could expose you to greater
losses in others. If it’s a brand that is particularly popular among African-Americans, it could turn out that you’re discouraging regular paying customers, and
losing sales, by making them feel that
they’re receiving excessive scrutiny. You
noticed the race of these people because
noticing race is a social habit. Did they
have other distinctive attributes that
would be more helpful to your employees? Conversely, could you deter theft by
focusing on the brand, not the customer?
Whether knowing the color of those
attempting these thefts would help your
employees will depend, as well, on what
proportion of the people who come into
your store are visibly African-American. If
you are in a neighborhood where almost
all the customers are black, you wouldn’t
need to mention the color of these failed
thieves. And if African-American customers are rare, then it could be that most of
your theft would be by customers of other
races, and you would be well served by
more general vigilance.
Why have I focused on scenarios in
which you could protect your inventory
while avoiding talk of race? Because I think
we’re too prone to this sort of racial profiling. But suppose the only way to address
your store’s theft problem was by specifying the race of the culprits in question.
Then you would be justified in mentioning
the pattern you’ve described — so long as
you’re confident that your employees will
register your concern about discrimination and continue to treat all customers
respectfully. If you’ve chosen your employees well, they should be as capable of considering these issues fairly as you are.
Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches philosophy
at N.Y.U. He is the author of ‘‘Cosmopolitanism’’ and
‘‘The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen.’’
Letter of Recommendation
High-Visibility Golf Balls
By Drew Millard
I took up golf in a time of personal crisis.
Last summer, after I moved back into my
parents’ house in western North Carolina,
I was overcome with a malaise so severe
that I couldn’t do anything but get in bed
and stay there. As listless days turned into
listless months, it became clear that I was
in the throes of a mental breakdown. The
experience was akin to a perpetual hangover of the soul, which I tried to defeat
not with ibuprofen and Netflix but with a
lot of lying down and contemplating the
futility of getting up.
For me, there was a point when my
melancholy lifted, almost as a fever does,
and my sorry state stopped feeling like a
dead end and started feeling like a backhanded chance for a fresh start. I went to
a local physician whom I’d been seeing
since middle school, and he told me three
things. One, I needed to go on medication;
I was seriously depressed. Two, I needed
to go to psychotherapy to ensure that this
sort of thing wouldn’t happen again. Three,
I needed to get some exercise in the hope
of speeding along the recovery process.
In the face of that third directive, I
decided to take up golf. I’d played a bit
Photograph by Hannah Whitaker
If you want to
improve at anything,
you need to know
where your mistakes
are leading you.
as a teenager, and there was a course
near my folks’ place that offered unlimited access for about $50 a month. ‘‘I am
a golfer now,’’ I told myself as I teed up
for the first time in a decade. ‘‘I leave the
course. I come back. I golf.’’ I was awful,
but to my utmost surprise, I immediately
fell so in love with the game that I even
loved being terrible at it.
After a few lousy rounds peppered with
hooks, slices, whiffs, shanks, chili-dips,
skied drives and skulled chips, I came to
view my poor play as the very avatar of
my depression. Yes, things were bad. But
by dedicating myself to the game, there
was no question of whether I would get
better, only of when it would happen. It
would take a lot of time and a lot of work,
but as long as I kept showing up and trying, I figured, both my game and my mind
would have to improve. Most important, if
I ever wanted to hit a better shot than the
one that came before it, I’d need to be able
to see where my ball had actually gone.
I was losing balls constantly: in water
hazards, in deep rough, in clusters of
trees where errant shots rattle around as
if on a Plinko board. So I started using
high-visibility golf balls as a matter of
practicality. In golf, these are all but
taboo. No one disputes that the little neon
orbs, which typically come in luminescent shades of yellow, orange, red and
pink, are easier to follow in the air than
conventional white balls, or that they’re
easier to find. It’s just that when players
square up behind a ball that’s visible from
an airplane, they might as well be pulling out a bullhorn and announcing to the
entire course that they suck at golf, or that
they’re very old, or both.
Manufacturers are well aware of their
products’ lowly reputation, but every
time a company tries to resuscitate their
esteem, it only manages to make highvisibility golf balls even more garish.
Callaway recently introduced the Truvis,
which comes in white overlaid with a red
pentagonal soccer-ball pattern (it also
comes in eye-gouging black-on-yellow).
While I appreciate its counteraesthetic
charms, the Truvis has so much going
on that it’s impossible for me to line up
a putt with one. I prefer the offerings
from Volvik and Bridgestone, whose
soft matte covers don’t reflect light but
instead seem to produce it from within, as
if they contained bits of radioactive waste.
A few rounds ago I somehow managed to
impart backspin on a yellow Bridgestone
e6 Soft with a fairway wood, so there’s no
telling what’s in those things.
At first, I played about as well as I felt.
Every dinky yellow ball I hit seemed to
mysteriously veer left at the apex of its trajectory, so I widened my stance. It turned
out that I’d overcorrected, and my hook
became a slice. When I was losing balls,
it was all too easy to simply drop another one and take a mulligan. But with the
clarity the high-visibility balls provided,
I felt compelled to deal with my wayward
shots, to seek them out and to understand
I was awful, but
to my utmost
surprise, I
immediately fell
so in love with
the game that I
even loved being
terrible at it.
what I’d done to send them there. As I tinkered with my swing, I focused on which
tweaks produced, if not better results, at
least different ones. I was comforted by
the knowledge that at last I was working
toward a balance.
For weeks, this cycle of error and compensation became the norm, but at least,
for the first time since my depression
began, I was doing something. Rather
than isolating myself from life and its
complications, I’d submitted myself to
them; I was once again an agent in a cycle
of cause and effect. It was a glorious process of experimentation, one in which the
results mattered less than the realization
that the will my depression had robbed
me of was slowly returning.
Lots of people suck at golf, of course —
most do, really. It’s just that many prefer
to confront their ineptitude aspirationally, shelling out hundreds of dollars for
all sorts of space-age clubs that promise
longer drives, straighter shots and miraculously generated backspin. It’s amusing
that the only guaranteed game enhancer,
whose utility is explained in its very
name, is one that far too often languishes
in the pro shop, overlooked and unloved.
Best of all, high-visibility golf balls help
you do the work of self-betterment all by
your lonesome, allowing you to identify
your problems so that you can fix them
yourself. At this point, my game has
improved to the point that my blinding
yellow Bridgestones have begun to feel
like training wheels. But there’s a part of
me that isn’t quite ready to let them go.
They gave me a little bit of light when
things were at their darkest.
Tip By Malia Wollan
‘‘You need a minimum of one hour,’’ says
Sonia Cancian, an assistant professor of
history at Zayed University in Dubai. Find
a quiet place away from distractions and
spend time just thinking about what you
want to communicate. ‘‘A letter has a
remarkable way of transpiring feelings,
emotions, honesty, sincerity and authenticity,’’ says Cancian, who insists on the
singular power of a love letter even in the
era of more immediate communication
methods like video chat or texting.
You don’t have to be highly educated,
or a natural poet, to write about love; it
is enough to be heartfelt (and a bit hyperbolic). If you feel stymied, include shared
cultural references to movies, song lyrics or novels. As part of her research,
Cancian reviewed roughly 450 missives
sent between two young, working-class
Italian lovers between 1946 and 1949,
many of them trans-Atlantic dispatches
between Venice and Montreal that contain snippets of opera libretto.
‘‘Play with the notion of time,’’ Cancian
says — love letters often describe hours
spent together as going quickly and hours
spent apart as painfully slow. Writing
about celestial bodies like constellations
can help create a sense of intimacy, as
if by looking skyward you can be drawn
closer together by your mutual smallness
against the immensity of galaxies.
But don’t get too spacey. ‘‘You have
to strike a balance between poetry and
descriptions of everyday life,’’ Cancian
says. Many of the hundreds of migrant letters Cancian has studied read like diaries,
chronicling the mundanity of work, meals,
weather. Be specific. ‘‘When you’re in love
with someone, you want to know what
world surrounds them,’’ Cancian says. A
love-letter author should always write for
an audience of one, despite the existence
of an academic profession in which reading other people’s letters is so important.
In the post-World War II letters Cancian researches, social mores of the time
relegated sex and physical intimacy to the
subtext. Today you can send erotic letters
if you want, but subtlety sometimes proves
more potent. ‘‘Being very explicit about
sex can take something away,’’ she says. ‘‘It
leaves less to the imagination.’’
Illustration by Radio
How to Write a
Love Letter
Drew Millard
is a writer who lives in
North Carolina.
Eat By Sam Sifton
When Too Much Is Just Enough
For great chicken-fried steak, add queso gravy.
Photograph by Gentl and Hyers
Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Glen Proebstel.
The way the
cheese enrobed
the crackly
beef — it was
like a great
like Frito pie.
Years ago, on a hot afternoon in a suburb
of Dallas, I sat in a restaurant called Babe’s
with the Texas food historian Robb Walsh
and ate an enormous quantity of chicken-fried steak. We didn’t talk much because
we were focused on our food, but when we
did, it was about the mysteries of the delicious. A chicken-fried steak is nothing to
champion, after all, at least on its face. It’s
just cheap beef pounded thin, dressed in
seasoned flour and fried, an Americanized
taste of the schnitzel brought to Texas by
German immigrants in the 19th century.
Peppery cream gravy generally accompanies the steak. That gravy can be gummy
when it’s not prepared well. And the steak
beneath it can be dry, or soggy, or both.
Ours was neither. Walsh and I marveled
at the way the texture of the meat’s crisp
exterior was heightened by the silkiness
of the gravy, at the way sweet and salty
combined in the dish and at the manner in
which the whole experience was so much
greater than the parts. Soon enough I went
home to recreate the meal.
My first efforts recalled a description
of chicken-fried steak made by the Texas
writer Larry McMurtry, the beef looking
‘‘like a piece of old wood that had had perhaps one coat of white paint in the thirties
and then had had that sanded off by thirty
years of Panhandle sandstorms.’’ I kept at
it, though, increasing the amount of spice
in the flour, moderating the amount of fat
in the gravy, messing with the temperature of the frying oil, experimenting until
I arrived at a true Yankee simulacrum of
the version served at Babe’s. It is rote work
with a delicious result, and I did not think
I could improve upon its perfection.
Then I ran across a new book by Lisa
Fain, who writes the ‘‘Homesick Texan’’
blog in New York City: ‘‘Queso! Regional
Recipes for the World’s Favorite ChileCheese Dip.’’ (I read books like that for a
living.) Fain has a recipe for a Tex-Mexified
version of chicken-fried steak, served with
gravy run through with jalapeños, onions,
a little ground cumin and a lot of shredded American cheese. She told me that she
adapted it from the chicken-fried steaks
she had eaten in restaurants across Texas,
most notably Lulu’s in San Antonio. Her
recipe sat alongside a photograph of the
dish, the gravy freckled with pico de gallo,
and it had an immediate impact: I wanted
to cook it right away.
A few hours later I did just that, and
when I ate, it was just as it had been with
Walsh all those years ago, my mind left
puzzling over how something so plain
could be so delectable. There was something brilliant about the way the cheese
enrobed the crackly beef, and the way in
which its mild spiciness elevated the flavors of the meat — like a great cheeseburger, like Frito pie. ‘‘It’s real rich,’’ Fain told
me of the dish, ‘‘though to some people
it’s heresy, to serve it that way.’’
Texans declare recipes heretical all the
time, as anyone who has served chili with
beans in the state can attest. But Walsh
told me he approved of chicken-fried
steak with queso, though he allowed he’d
prefer it with the sauce on the side, so he
could dip each bite into the cheese and
not have the crust go soggy. For her part,
Fain suggested serving the meat with
mashed potatoes or rice and refried beans.
I demand pico de gallo, and enough beef
so that there are seconds for everyone.
There is a particular reason for that:
I want to celebrate excess. It’s September.
Mild anxiety is the flavor of the moment,
and there’s no tonic for it but one last party
before it’s time to get back to work, back
on the treadmill, back in the game. Some
will greet Monday’s holiday with hot dogs
and brats, burgers and corn — simple picnic food to postpone the inevitable return
to hard shoes and long meetings. Some
will go to bonfires on the beach, eat chips
and dip on the sand. Others still will attend
parades, eat midway-style ice cream or
beef patties, fried dough or goat curry, then
dance through the afternoon as if Tuesday
weren’t coming. But not me. I’ll head into
the kitchen to make chicken-fried steak
with queso gravy, and I hope that you’ll
do the same. Labor on Labor Day is the
very best way to keep the black dog at bay.
Chicken-Fried Steak With Queso Gravy
Time: 45 minutes
For the steaks:
pounds beef top round,
cut into 8 equal-size pieces
Neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed,
for frying.
tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
tablespoon ground cumin
teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
cups all-purpose flour
large eggs
cup whole milk
For the gravy:
tablespoon neutral oil,
like canola or grapeseed
cup diced yellow onion, approximately
¼ of a medium-size onion
medium jalapeños, to taste,
seeded and diced
tablespoon cornstarch
cups whole milk
ounces American cheese,
shredded or torn
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon kosher salt
1. Place the pieces of steak under plastic wrap
or parchment paper, and use a meat hammer
or the back of a small pan to pound each to
a uniform ¼-inch thickness, roughly doubling
its surface size. Heat oven to 200. Pour ½ inch
to ¾ inch of oil into a cast-iron or other large,
heavy skillet, and place over medium-high heat.
2. Combine salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne
pepper in a small bowl, then use the mixture
to season the meat aggressively, massaging
the spices into the meat.
3. Put the flour into a large zip-top bag or
baking dish. Beat eggs and milk together in
a bowl. Shake each piece of steak in the bag
of flour or press into the dish of flour, making
sure both sides are well coated. Shake off
excess flour, dip steak into milk mixture, and
then again into the flour. Shake off excess,
and place steak on a large plate or sheet pan.
Repeat with remaining steaks.
4. When the oil has reached 300 degrees,
or a flick of flour sizzles in it furiously, work in
batches to cook the steaks in the pan, so that
they have room around them, probably just two
steaks per batch. They will pop and hiss. Cook
for 2 to 3 minutes, or until juices start to bubble
out of the top of the coating, then use tongs to
turn the pieces over gently, and cook the other
side 3 to 4 minutes longer, until they are crisp
and golden brown. Transfer cooked steaks to
a sheet pan, and keep warm in the oven.
5. To make the gravy, pour out all but
1 tablespoon of the oil from the frying pan,
and then heat the pan over medium-low heat.
Add onions and jalapeños, and cook, stirring
often, until they have softened, about 5 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch
and milk. When the onions and jalapeños are
soft, pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan.
Bring to a simmer, then lower heat and cook
for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the
gravy begins to thicken. Add the cheese, cumin
and salt. Stir to combine, and allow the cheese
to melt, then taste and adjust seasonings.
Remove steaks from oven and serve, topping
each steak with queso gravy and, if you like,
some pico de gallo or favorite salsa.
Serves 8.
f you are, like me, a person with no sense of sty
style and a stomach paunch,
you might understand why dressing for a fashion show would be a psychological challenge.
Thee day before my first one, I begged my bestdressed
essed co-worker to chaperone my visit to a
t-fashion outlet. II’d coveted a pleated gold-foil
irt I’d seen on the store’s website. My co-worker
ad approved the skirt on the model. I tried it
on. She did not approve it on me. In person, the
gold foil looked cheap, the waistband of the skirt
unflattering. Instead, she picked out a rose-colored
accordion skirt that I would never have thought to
buy. I put it on the next morning. Four hours later,
I spilled steak juice all down my front.
Maybe another person would have given up
at that point, but I was on my way to meet Elaine
Welteroth, the editor in chief of Teen Vogue. Hired
at 29, she is the youngest-ever editor in chief of a
Condé Nast publication, and only the second black
woman to hold the title there. Since taking over the
magazine last year, she has become a personality of
sorts, appearing as herself on ABC’s ‘‘black-ish’’ and
being photographed cuddled up to celebrities: the
Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, the
actors Gabrielle Union and Aja Naomi King. As I
headed to the Coach fall show this February, I found
myself growing increasingly nervous to meet her.
It wasn’t that she was famous, really. But I spent a
significant portion of my adolescence fantasizing
about running my own teen magazine, and, like
her, I am a young, black New York-based editor
with curly hair and myopia. She was famous to me.
The current iteration of Teen Vogue is, if you
listen to anyone who likes it — and you’d be
surprised at the diversity of people who do — a
‘‘revolution’’ in magazines. Devoid of the promand weight-loss-themed articles that usually litter teen magazines, the title, read primarily by
18-to-24-year-olds, is now full of articles like an
open letter by Mckesson to Jordan Edwards, a
15-year-old black boy who was fatally shot by
police, or a conversation between the singer
Troye Sivan and the model Hari Nef about being
members of the L.G.B.T. community in the current political climate.
It certainly feels strikingly different from the
Teen Vogue that began showing up at my family’s house in the early aughts. Back then, it was
mostly indistinguishable from the other teen
magazines I read: CosmoGirl (for sassy white
girls), Seventeen (for ambitious white girls), YM
(for white girls prone to toxic-shock syndrome).
Teen Vogue — for rich white girls — was explicitly dedicated to fashion, less ‘‘finding a prom
date’’ and more ‘‘finding a prom color palette.’’
What sticks out most in my memory is ‘‘A Room
of My Own,’’ the back-page feature that almost
always presented a very posh New York girl
whose bed was inevitably from either Crate and
Barrel or some cool, unnamed Brooklyn thrift
store. Even though my life didn’t resemble the
ones I saw in those pages, I read the magazines
as soon as they arrived. I knew the themes were
corny and hypocritical — breathless embraces of
self-love despite diet tips 12 pages later — but I
was convinced they would teach me how to be
a person in the world.
I hadn’t thought about Teen Vogue for years
when I noticed a cover story about Willow Smith,
an outspoken teenage singer with brown skin
and dreadlocked hair. I couldn’t remember the
last time I’d seen a black girl on the cover of a
magazine. I flipped to the article. It was just as
effervescent and slightly cheesy as the ones from
my youth — ‘‘She may very well be from a distant planet, a foreign place where women are
homegrown superheroes, nurtured to become
goddesses,’’ went the description of Smith — but
it was a far cry from the profiles of racially homogeneous, apolitical teeny-boppers I was used to
reading. Welteroth wrote it herself.
At the fashion show, people started to take their
seats in front of the runway. I craned my neck,
searching for Welteroth, who is difficult to miss.
She has tight, springy curls that she herself cuts
into a corona around her face, and is perhaps the
only person who can wear a pair of oversize aviator glasses without looking as if she wandered
out of a 1970s-era most-wanted poster. Just as the
first models started down the runway, my phone
buzzed: It was Welteroth. They closed the doors
early. She didn’t make it in.
Afterward, I met her outside, where she was
cheerful but mildly annoyed, commiserating
with a group of editors who also missed the
show. We started to walk toward her next event
when a photographer stopped us. ‘‘I’d love to
get some shots,’’ he said, generously gesturing
at me and Welteroth. He took one photo of us
together, asked if he could get Welteroth alone
and then took approximately 10,000 more. All
of a sudden, there were three more photographers in a line, waiting to photograph her in her
Coach shearling coat and burnt orange slacks.
The previous day she appeared on ‘‘The Daily
Show’’ about Teen Vogue’s new socially conscious bent. (She still had her TV eyelashes on,
she told me.) At the Women’s March a month
earlier, someone carried a sign: ‘‘Teen Vogue will
save us all.’’ One tenet of the magazine under
Welteroth is that a person can be interested in
fashion and politics. She already knew how to
make a fashion-and-beauty magazine appealing
to her readers — and the advertisers who wanted
to be inside. But could Elaine Welteroth really
lead the #Resistance and make a glossy magazine at the same time?
hen I met Welteroth again in her office
this spring, perfume bottles littered her desk,
next to stacks of old issues of Teen Vogue. A
black love seat was decorated with an ‘‘I Woke
Up Like This’’ pillow. I half expected someone to
start shooting a movie about a hip, sunny editor
in chief trying to balance life and love and bags
of freebies in the big city. Whenever Welteroth
wanted to make a point, she would wave her hands
for emphasis, making it hard to miss the emerald-cut pavé ring on her left hand. (Welteroth is
engaged to her boyfriend, a musician. They first
met in church as preteens.)
Welteroth told me that she took a journalism
class at California State University, Sacramento,
that ‘‘changed my life.’’ The professor promised
that any student who could get published in a
national magazine would receive an automatic A:
Welteroth pitched a story about plus-size footwear
to Figure, a magazine for plus-size women. Her
pitch was accepted. ‘‘I would stay up all night and
call my mom and read everything to her and make
sure it was perfect,’’ Welteroth said. She majored in
communication studies and interned at an international advertising agency before her last semester
of college. One night, she told a fellow intern that
she’d rather be working at a magazine and showed
him one of her clips from Figure. He insisted that it
wasn’t real journalism. ‘‘I remember staying up for
an hour and a half debating this man to the ground,
telling him that beauty and fashion journalism is
journalism,’’ she told me, still impassioned.
At her office, she told me (and a Condé Nast
publicist, one of whom was present for almost all
our conversations) that she was a ‘‘magazine junkie’’ as a teenager. ‘‘I read everything,’’ she said, ‘‘but
particularly, growing up in a household where my
mom was black and my dad was white, I remember really loving Ebony and Essence. Those magazines were the only place where I could see images
of women who looked like me or my mom. I loved
YM. I read Seventeen. But there was this very clear
division between where I could see myself and
where I couldn’t.’’
After graduating from college in 2007, Welteroth
interned for Harriette Cole, then Ebony’s creative
director, whom Welteroth calls the ‘‘original #influencer.’’ Welteroth had written Cole a letter asking
for an informational interview, then followed up
obsessively — by email, by phone, by mailing her
a mock-up of her own magazine. Impressed and
slightly terrified, Cole called Welteroth as a courtesy; they ended up talking for an hour. Five months
later, she invited Welteroth to assist her on a West
Coast photo shoot of Serena Williams.
Cole has had at least 40 interns over the last 33
years. ‘‘Other people have been really good,’’ she
told me. ‘‘But no one has been like Elaine.’’ Welteroth persuaded publicists to let her backstage
at fashion shows so she could cover beauty for
Ebony, something that the magazine had never
done. Determined to improve Ebony’s digital
presence, Welteroth persuaded a videographer
from MTV to shoot video for the magazine free.
Cole created a staff position for Welteroth at the
magazine; with a majority of the editorial staff
in Chicago, Ebony’s New York office was often
only the two of them, working 12-to-15-hour days.
In 2011, Welteroth was hired as a beauty editor for Glamour. Just months later, she learned
that Teen Vogue needed a new beauty-and-health
director. Welteroth interviewed with Amy Astley,
then Teen Vogue’s editor in chief; the two women
talked about Gabby Douglas, the teenage American gymnast who was being pilloried in the news
for her ‘‘unkempt’’ appearance, and how often
black hair was read as messy. That was the sort
of issue she wanted to cover in her position, she
told Astley. She got the job.
Last year, Anna Wintour announced that Welteroth, Phillip Picardi and Marie Suter would take
charge of the Teen Vogue brand: Welteroth would
oversee the print magazine, Picardi would run
the website and Suter would be in charge of the
design for both. The teen magazine landscape
looked especially bleak: There was only one other
mainstream title (Seventeen), and Teen Vogue
itself would go to four issues, from nine, later that
year. Instead of competing with a horde of other
magazines, Teen Vogue now had to fight with
online-only publications like Rookie or Lenny
Letter and social-media platforms for readers
and ad revenue — and for the attention spans of
a generation used to reading on a screen. (One of
the first major changes under the triumvirate was
a redesign where, among other things, the size
of the magazine was changed to 11 inches by 6¾
inches, up from 9 inches by 6¾ inches, which sort
of made the newly tall, rectangular format seem,
Welteroth joked, like an iPhone.)
Welteroth’s guiding instinct was that Teen
Vogue needed to widen its scope beyond beauty
and fashion. ‘‘I felt like there was an opportunity
to go a little deeper and to feature a different type
of girl: someone who actually used their platform
to be a role model and to be a thought leader.
There was something shifting in the zeitgeist.’’ If
it was going to continue to exist as a teen magazine, it would have to acknowledge that its readers cared about politics and social activism and
sexual identity, topics it had avoided in the past.
Five months later, after the presidential election, Teen Vogue published an online-only article
by Lauren Duca titled, ‘‘Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America,’’ and suddenly, adults started
paying attention. When Welteroth appeared on
‘‘The Daily Show’’ with Picardi, Trevor Noah
asked them a question that, presumably, most of
his audience was thinking: How had Teen Vogue
established itself as a formidable source of political commentary? ‘‘If you guys have haters who
say, ‘What do you guys know about journalism?’
how do you respond?’’ Noah asked. Picardi, who
edited Duca’s article, snickered. But Welteroth
grew serious. By that point, she had published
four issues, including a ‘‘For Girls, by Girls’’ issue,
which featured an essay by Hillary Clinton, along
with interviews of Loretta Lynch, who was then
the attorney general, carried out by the actress
Yara Shahidi, and the activist Gloria Steinem,
conducted by the actress Amandla Stenberg. Her
‘Smart Girls Speak Up!’’ issue, guest-edited by
Shahidi and the actress Rowan Blanchard, suggested Ta-Nahisi Coates’s ‘‘Between the World
and Me’’ and ‘‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’’
by Zora Neale Hurston as book-club picks.
‘‘I would say,’’ Welteroth responded, ‘‘that Teen
Vogue has as much right to be at the table, talking
about politics, as every young woman does in
America right now.’’
ne afternoon this summer, I watched
Welteroth take in the sight of her fall issue. We
were sitting in a conference room, just across
from her new corner office; the magazine’s pages
were tacked up on the wall in front of us. Since
its inception in 2003, Teen Vogue had published
an annual ‘‘Young Hollywood’’ issue, featuring a
parade of photogenic actors on the cusp of fame.
But Welteroth had decided to remake it into the
‘‘Icons’’ issue, in order to create an experience that
reflected the types of people her readers looked
up to. The list included full-figured models, an
Olympic athlete and a trans media personality.
‘‘Back then,’’ she said, referring to when the Young
Hollywood issue was created, ‘‘it was all about
big-budget film projects. That meant people cared
about you. That meant you were on covers. Now
it’s so much more than that.’’ She turned to look
at me. ‘‘It’s like, what do you stand for?’’
That embrace of social consciousness is
outlined in the feature’s opening essay, which
Welteroth has nicknamed ‘‘the manifesto.’’ The
essay cites a talent manager, Aleen Keshishian,
contending that it’s in a starlet’s best interest to
have ‘‘a passion or point of view.’’ And, in a way,
in Teen Vogue’s best interest too, because Welteroth is catering to a generation that demands
inclusivity and is increasingly sensitive to issues
of diversity and representation and expects the
same of its influencers. Welteroth has called her
readers ‘‘woke.’’ And so the magazine pushes
body positivity instead of diet tips and embraces
topics like feminism and intersectionality and
L.G.B.T. rights and includes diverse people on its
covers and in its fashion spreads, because that’s
just woke enough in the industry.
In an email to me, Anna Wintour wrote that Welteroth ‘‘has sought — and succeeded — in infusing
its editorial with a progressive and outspoken
political voice.’’ Teen Vogue’s ad copy describes it as
the ‘‘rebellious, outspoken, empowering magazine
that you need right now.’’ But in the grand scheme
of things, Welteroth’s magazine is only as rebellious
as it can be without risking advertising revenue,
outspoken about issues that have already been
widely agreed upon. In print, Welteroth has to
balance serving her readers the socially conscious
content that they crave against pleasing advertisers
and corporate managers by providing stories that
Maybelline won’t mind running a mascara ad next
to. The bulk of the unconventional, overtly antiTrump content that has attracted media attention
occurs on the website, which Welteroth has little
to do with day to day. It’s impossible to know what
Teen Vogue would have looked like under a Hillary
Clinton administration, but it’s noteworthy that
Welteroth began reimagining the magazine long
before the election.
The articles in Teen Vogue are short on substance but fun — lively and breezy, often with a
big-sister tone. An article ostensibly about the Syrian refugee crisis culminates with the Syrian teenager finding a boyfriend; an interview about the
struggle for Hispanic representation in Hollywood
is maybe five questions long. And despite its turn
to current affairs, the new Teen Vogue is still full
of the meat and potatoes of teen-magazine stories
— combating zits, trying out blond hair dye, the
hottest fashions from Eastern Europe. It’s easy to
feel intellectually superior while reading it, especially as someone who falls just beyond its demographic, until there’s an article on the dangers of
MDMA, and you try to remember which drug that
is, or there’s a personal essay about improving
your financial health by cutting down on frivolous
spending and opening a savings account, and you
say, ‘‘Hmm, maybe I should try that.’’ You read on
despite yourself, because, apparently, you have
the same problems as a teenager, and probably
the exact same problems from when you were a
teenager yourself.
During our last conversation, Welteroth
updated me on the next steps for the magazine.
‘‘We’ve come to stand for something, and it has
resonated,’’ she said. ‘‘So Phase 2 of Teen Vogue’s
evolution is activating this audience that we’ve
galvanized. I see that happening through live
experiences, products and services.’’ The brand,
she said, had already changed so much in the
last year. ‘‘You’re woke. O.K. Now what?’’ She
then told me about a coming TV integration,
a forthcoming reader convention and a line of
merchandise, exclusively sold at Urban Outfitters. The answer to her question, then, is just as
likely to be found in the mall as in her pages. Like
the teen magazines before it, Teen Vogue tells its
readers what they should look like and what they
should wear. Welteroth’s modest innovation is for
the magazine also, in its own way, to help teach
its readers how to be people in the world — how
to care for others, how to defend their rights, how
to see the humanity in us all. Everybody has to
start somewhere.
The New York Times Magazine
B U C K S $ TA R T H 3 R E
How Trump’s presidency changed the rules of
Washington influence — and spawned a new breed of lobbyist on K Street.
By Nicholas Confessore / Photo illustrations by Sam Kaplan
At 41, he has the frenetic energy of a serial entrepreneur and the motley
résumé to match. After dropping out of college to intern on Capitol Hill,
Stryk wrote voter-contact scripts for a Republican P.R. firm, helped start a
political job-listing website and eventually opened his own Beltway lobbying
shop, Sonoran Policy Group. The firm almost collapsed in 2009, after Stryk
tried to acquire a troubled Maryland-based security-guard business. Stryk
decamped to California, owing thousands of dollars in back rent, and reinvented S.P.G. as a procurement and political-consulting business. He traded
tequila shots with the California congressman Dana Rohrabacher, ran for
mayor of a town in Napa Valley, handled P.R. for an arms dealer accused of
smuggling weapons to Libya — the case was dropped last fall — and helped
clients sell the government everything from flashlights to missile-guidance
software. By the time he hooked up with the Trump campaign, Stryk had
hustled his way to a good living, and he knew his way around Washington.
But he was no one’s idea of a Beltway insider.
When the phone call to Trump went through, Stryk saw the geography
of a new world forming before his eyes. Interests that spent millions of
dollars studying Washington and shaping it to their liking had been taken
totally by surprise by Trump’s win. The rules had changed, and no one
other people, election night did not pan out quite the way Robert Stryk was sure what the new ones were. For Stryk, it was the opportunity he
expected. Stryk began the night slumped in a Morton’s steakhouse in had been waiting for. As he saw it, the lobbying old guard — the guys that
downtown Washington, tuning out the guests at his watch party to type threw down black Amex cards at Joe’s Crab and sent fat quarterly bills to
out the campaign announcement of a buddy who — in the wake of Don- clients they barely did any work for — were on the defensive. New people
ald J. Trump’s all-but-certain defeat and the Republican Party implosion would have a chance. People like Stryk.
New Zealand was a prime example. Groser and his staff had spent
that was sure to follow — planned to make a long-shot bid for chairman
of the Republican National Committee. He ended it by closing down the months researching Hillary Clinton, calculating who among her vast claque
bar at the Mayflower Hotel, and after the race was called, giddily march- would win positions of power and influence in her administration. The
ing down Connecticut Avenue with his friends as they chanted, ‘‘Make main thing they knew about Trump was that he had sworn to pull the
America Great Again!’’
United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the complex 12-nation
Stryk, who owned a lobbying firm so small it didn’t actually have an trade deal that Groser helped negotiate. Stryk, offering to work free, had
office, spent most of his time in California and owned a small vineyard in a proposal. New Zealand would throw the biggest party of Trump’s inauOregon, and he had helped out the Trump campaign as a sort of informal guration. Stryk would put the new administration’s leading lights in the
West Coast hand. He was still reveling in Trump’s upset win two nights room; Groser would do the rest. ‘‘It was about building brand recognition
later, over a bottle of wine on the patio of the Four Seasons in Georgetown, for New Zealand,’’ Stryk explained. ‘‘If we can get them there, then forever,
when a chocolate Lab padded over to his table to sniff his crotch. Stryk bad or good, Trump and New Zealand are a co-brand.’’
and the dog’s owner got to talking about wine and cigars and finally, like
In the tumult following Trump’s win, Stryk was discovering that many of
most of the country, about Trump. It turned out that she worked for New his old friends — most of them fellow Washington backbenchers, B-listers
Zealand’s Embassy in Washington. New Zealand’s prime minister still hadn’t and understudies — had vaulted to positions of unexpected influence. A
connected with the new president-elect, she told Stryk — a diplomatic guy Stryk knew at the inaugural committee put out the word among Trump
and political embarrassment. Stryk cocked an eye across
alums that New Zealand’s party was the week’s hot ticket.
the table. ‘‘What if I said I could get you the number of
Stryk called a friend at Salem Media, the right-leaning
someone to call the president?’’ he asked her.
media-and-talk-radio company, which signed on as a party
sponsor. Another friend, the actor Jon Voight, agreed to
The following afternoon, Stryk found himself in a cab,
attend as a special celebrity guest.
headed for a meeting with New Zealand’s ambassador to
the United States, Tim Groser. Stryk was more than a little
In January, hundreds of guests packed into to the
‘We don’t
nervous. On the way over, he called a friend named Stuart
embassy’s chancery, among them dozens of Trump-camwant to sell
Jolly, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who ran Trump’s
paign alumni and future West Wing staff. Stryk rented a tuxourselves
edo jacket for the occasion. Groser gave a Trump-friendly
field operation during the Republican primary and spent
as just the
election night with Stryk at Morton’s. Jolly reached out to
speech, lauding the end of political correctness and the
Trump guys.
someone he knew in the Trump high command and delivdawn of a new era in Kiwi-American relations. ‘‘We had
But maybe
ered a cell number, but Stryk didn’t know if it would actua party that rocked, frankly,’’ he told me recently. In one
ally work. At the embassy, Groser invited him in, uncorked
night, New Zealand had upended Washington’s elaborate
that’s what
a bottle of pinot noir and called the prime minister to pass
diplomatic pecking order. Diplomats and social secretaries
it takes for
along the number. A week later, President-elect Trump
at other embassies were left wondering how the country
the first
was finally able to accept a congratulatory phone call. But
had pulled in so many Trump V.I.P.s. Trumpworld, previfew years.’
even before the call went through, plans and possibilities
ously inscrutable and unreachable to Groser’s team, was
were blooming in Stryk’s mind. ‘‘I said to myself: ‘This
now populated by friendly faces. ‘‘Robert showed, ‘I’m
could be very, very interesting,’ ’’ he told me when I first
connected,’ ’’ he told me.
met him this spring. ‘‘ ‘The world’s going to change.’ ’’
Groser decided to hire Stryk full time. Not long after,
Stryk, who grew up in Arizona, had bounced around
Stryk pulled $250,000 out of his savings, moved his family
the minor leagues of politics for most of his adult life.
to the Washington suburbs and started hiring.
Prop stylist: Gozde Eker
There are about 10,000 registered lobbyists in Washington — roughly
20 for every member of Congress — and thousands more unregistered
ones: consultants and ‘‘strategic advisers’’ who are paid to help shape
government policy but do not disclose their clients. By whatever name,
they are the people companies and countries hire to help roll back regulations, unstick bids, tweak legislation or get meetings. Lobbying is
at once Washington’s most maligned, enduring and essential industry.
Underpaid young politicos and retiring lawmakers depend on Beltway
lobby shops — known as ‘‘K Street’’ after the city boulevard that once
housed many of them — for the high-six-figure salaries that will loft them
into Washington’s petite aristocracy. Congress needs K Street, too: After
decades of cutting its own staff and research arms, much of Capitol Hill’s
institutional memory and policy expertise now resides in the lobbying
industry. But the private sector needs lobbyists the most. The modern federal government is so sprawling and complex that it practically demands
a specialized class of middlemen and -women.
Ad by Delcan & Company. Photo illustration by Sam Kaplan for The New York Times.
Over the decades, lobbying has
evolved from a niche trade of fixers
and gatekeepers to a sleek, vertically
integrated, $3-billion-a-year industry.
A good lobbyist doesn’t go into a meeting asking for legislation; she or he
already has the bill drafted, a coalition
of businesses and trade groups poised
to support it, a policy brief to hand out
to reporters and to the officials positioned at dozens of decision points
throughout the bureaucracy and relationships with advertising and polling
firms to manage the public rollout.
Everyone has a lobbyist — or three, or
50 — and the lobbyists know everyone.
K Street is majestic and immovable,
veined through Washington like fat
through a prime steak.
Like virtually every other candidate
for president, Trump campaigned
against this thicket of money and
influence, positioning himself as
an outsider who would ‘‘drain the
swamp.’’ This pledge would soon
prove more rhetorical than real, but
it contained a grain of truth. Trump
arrived in Washington with a relatively short baggage train of Beltway
relationships and obligations. He
didn’t read policy briefs; he barely had
policies. His inner circle was a hodgepodge of Breitbart alumni, nominally
Democratic financiers, Trump Organization employees on loan, the odd
reality-show star and Republicans
who would have been unemployable
in almost any other administration.
The smart money in Washington — K
Street and K Street’s clients, the big
corporations and trade associations —
didn’t quite know what to expect. But
mostly, they didn’t know whom to call.
‘‘Many companies want to understand: What are the president’s priorities?’’ Corey Lewandowski told me in February, a few weeks after the inauguration. ‘‘But there are so few people in Washington who have a relationship
or an understanding of him.’’ Lewandowski, the president’s former campaign
manager, was happy to tell you that he was one of the few exceptions.
Lewandowski’s journey from obscure New Hampshire political operative
to celebrity power broker was emblematic of how Trump’s election scrambled Washington’s hierarchies. Much like Stryk, Lewandowski had spent
years in the lower ranks of conservative politics and lobbying. Being hired
as Trump’s campaign manager moved Lewandowski into the political big
time, and being fired, midway through the race, did little to dislodge him.
There were speaking gigs, a stint as a reliably pro-Trump pundit on CNN.
At one point last year, Lewandowski even tried selling a book, tentatively
titled ‘‘Let Trump Be Trump’’; Stryk, introduced to Lewandowski by a mutual friend, helped him shop the proposal. ‘‘Corey had a brand,’’ Stryk told
me, and that brand was valuable. HarperCollins offered Lewandowski $1.2
million, an astounding figure for a campaign manager — though the deal
The New York Times Magazine
One good source of business was the president’s habit of calling chief
executives to the White House for televised meetings. In January, when the
chief executive of Whirlpool was summoned by Trump to discuss how to
revive American jobs, the company asked Avenue Strategies to advise it. As
one lobbyist who shared clients with Lewandowski put it to me, companies
like Whirlpool needed to know the lay of the land inside the White House:
How much sway did Wilbur Ross have? Was Steve Bannon for real? And
what should the company do if Trump started dumping on it on Twitter?
Everyone had seen what happened to Lockheed Martin. Lockheed, the
federal government’s single biggest contractor, is a powerful presence
inside the Beltway. But through the winter, Trump had lashed out at the
company over cost overruns on the F-35 fighter jet. The company’s shares
dropped each time, taking Lockheed’s value down by billions of dollars.
These were the kinds of problems that Lewandowski believed others on K
Street couldn’t help with. ‘‘If you’re a corporate C.E.O. and the president has
tweeted at you and your stock has dropped 4 percent, you say: ‘Why am I
paying all these guys so much money?’ ’’ Lewandowski said. The old model
of Washington influence wouldn’t work on Trump, he believed. ‘‘They don’t
know him, and they don’t know any of his guys, and they don’t understand
how he thinks.’’ Eventually Lockheed, too, turned to Avenue.
Over the course of a few conversations with the company’s Washington
office, Bennett told me, they advised Lockheed on how Marillyn Hewson, its
president and chief executive, should approach conversations: ‘‘Short, direct,
honest answers,’’ as Bennett recounted it for me later. ‘‘Feel free to educate
Card by Delcan & Company. Photo illustration by Sam Kaplan for The New York Times.
Prop stylist: Gozde Eker
evaporated when Lewandowski refused to show HarperCollins a copy of
his nondisclosure agreement with Trump.
Through it all, Lewandowski remained close to Trump and spoke to him
often. But after the election, the White House job Lewandowski hoped
for never quite materialized. Now Lewandowski, too, was on K Street. He
had joined up with another former Trump aide, Barry Bennett, to start a
lobbying firm called Avenue Strategies.
Unlike other people on K Street, Lewandowski did not pretend to be an
expert on the legislative calendar or the fine points of the Administrative
Procedure Act. He was an expert on Trump. ‘‘There are just so few people
in Washington who know the president,’’ Lewandowski told me in February. ‘‘It’s a comparative advantage.’’ He was not shy about playing up their
friendship. He sometimes tweeted from the White House grounds. When
journalists or other visitors came to his office, on Pennsylvania Avenue a
few blocks from the White House, he would point out his window to where,
he claimed, he could see the president’s bedroom.
His mind-meld with Trump was what made him valuable to clients,
Lewandowski explained to me. ‘‘I think what I bring is a level of understanding
of the president’s thought process,’’ he said, ‘‘only because I had the privilege
of being next to him for so long.’’ He was doing as many as nine or 10 meetings
a day: Chief executives, prominent Republicans, even other lobbying firms
wanted his advice. He offered it freely, Lewandowski told me. He wanted to
be helpful. ‘‘You know what a guy said to me the other day?’’ he said. ‘‘ ‘You’ve
got a hot hand. Just remember, that hand’s not going to be hot forever.’ ’’
the president. In the end, it’s going to be transactional.’’
The next time Hewson met with Trump, a week before
the inauguration, she came bearing gifts: a potential F-35
price cut and a promise to add jobs at a Texas plant.
The Twitter attacks ceased. By the end of February,
Trump was praising Lockheed. ‘‘They’ve just announced
eighteen hundred new jobs,’’ Trump told reporters after
a meeting with Hewson and other manufacturing executives. ‘‘I have to say this, Marillyn, you’ve gotten a lot of
credit because what you did was the right thing.’’
Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, but he was practical about the
realities of politics. Like most of Florida’s Republican
old guard, he started the 2016 campaign backing the
state’s former governor, Jeb Bush, before switching
‘White Houses
to the state’s junior senator, Marco Rubio. Once it
became clear that Trump would lead the Republican
are always
ticket, Ballard enthusiastically joined the campaign as
somewhat opaque
Trump’s Florida finance chairman.
places of
Ballard, who is 56, had a ruddy Florida tan that
fascination, where
marked him as new in town, and the serene confidence
you don’t quite
of a man who saw no way he could lose. At his office, an
know who is up and
Lewandowski’s help did not come cheap. A typical bouattractive receptionist led us into a spotless conference
who is down,
tique lobbying firm might charge $10,000 to $15,000 a
room. ‘‘I’m not an expert in Washington, D.C.,’’ Ballard
or how decisions
month. A big lobbying or law firm, with teams of paratold me when we sat down. ‘‘I’m an expert in lobbying.’’
are ultimately
legals or assistants and high overhead, might charge
In Florida, Ballard had a blue-chip list of corporate clireached. The added
twice that, with a three-month retainer. Avenue someents: Google, pharmaceutical companies, Big Sugar. His
times asked for as much as $50,000 a month — a top-shelf
business plan was simple: to sign up his Florida clients
here was there
price on K Street — and Lewandowski on occasion tried
for Trump-related advice in Washington. ‘‘When I was
was not a
to go higher. But there were plenty of takers: By midwinon the campaign, they didn’t want to pitch in,’’ Ballard
single consistent
ter, Avenue had ‘‘more than a dozen, less than 50’’ clients,
said of his clients. ‘‘And now they say: ‘How do I figure
Lewandowski told me at the time.
out what is going on here?’ ’’
The demand was so great that would-be Trump-whisBy the end of his first 100 days in office, it seemed,
perers were popping up in Washington like toadstools
Trump had not so much drained the swamp as enshroudafter a rainstorm. The former Trump surrogate Newt
ed it with a billowing fog of uncertainty. No previous
president had changed his mind more often, or conGingrich, a ‘‘senior adviser’’ to the lobbying practice
tradicted his cabinet so frequently, or permitted such
at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, was hawking
a book titled ‘‘Understanding Trump.’’ Established K Street firms were vicious ideological combat under his White House roof. Many clients just
grabbing any Trump people they could find: Jim Murphy, Trump’s former wanted to know what they could safely ignore. ‘‘White Houses are always
political director, joined the lobbying giant BakerHostetler, while anoth- somewhat opaque places of fascination, where you don’t quite know who is
er firm, Fidelis Government Relations, struck up a partnership with Bill up and who is down, or how decisions are ultimately reached,’’ said Bruce
Smith, Mike Pence’s former chief of staff. All told, close to 20 ex-aides of P. Mehlman, a prominent Republican lobbyist who served in the George
Trump, friends and hangers-on had made their way into Washington’s W. Bush administration. ‘‘The added complexity here was there was not
influence business.
a single consistent governing philosophy. It was not clear if the president
Beltway experience was not necessarily required. Squire Patton Boggs saw trade the way that Gary Cohn sees it or the way Steve Bannon sees it.’’
formed a ‘‘strategic alliance’’ with Michael Cohen, Trump’s self-described
Moreover, some of the usual paths through the bog were now closed.
‘‘personal attorney’’ from New York, who had scant government experience. Hundreds of senior administration jobs were going unfilled, as Trump’s cabThere was also Brad Gerstman, a brawny Long Island lobbyist and P.R. man inet secretaries battled with his inner circle over potential hires from among
who had done work for Trump in New York over the years. On election night, the Republican regulars in Washington. One lobbyist at a well-regarded
Gerstman was so sure Trump was going to lose that he got on a plane to Israel. firm with numerous financial clients told me that his problem was less that
As Gerstman tells it, his business partner called as soon as he landed. ‘‘Why he didn’t know whom to call than that there was no one to call: Infighting
the hell are you in Tel Aviv?’’ his partner asked. ‘‘We have an office to open in and vetting problems had stymied so many appointments at the Treasury
Washington.’’ Gerstman hung up and went to his hotel, where he looked out Department that many of the offices were empty.
All of this had inadvertently created an entirely new business model
over the Mediterranean, put a cigar in his mouth and listened to the congratulatory messages piled up in his voice mail. In January, he set up an office in for Trump’s friends and former employees. In normal times, K Street did
downtown Washington. ‘‘We don’t want to sell ourselves as just the Trump much of its business on Capitol Hill, where the churn of legislation offered
guys,’’ Gerstman told me. ‘‘But maybe that’s what it takes for the first few years.’’ unending opportunity to deliver goodies for clients. But the power vacuum
Many of the Trump-connected lobbyists told me they were turning in Trump’s cabinet agencies, and the inexperience of his West Wing staff,
away as much business as they accepted. One person offered Lewan- seemed to offer a different kind of opening. It was easy to imagine that a
dowski $250,000 just to get the president to tweet about him. A lobbyist single phone call, coming from the right person, could redirect a major
who worked on Trump’s inaugural committee told me of a billionaire who, policy initiative. Some of the old firms would do O.K., Lewandowski thought
within a week of the inauguration, offered a million dollars if the lobbyist — the ones that had relationships in Congress, that understood the intricate
could arrange for his picture to be taken in the Oval Office with the new ballet of lawmaking. But the real action, he was betting, would be at the other
president. ‘‘You can make $2 million if you want,’’ Bennett told me, sounding end of Pennsylvania Avenue. ‘‘I think this particular administration is really
almost apologetic. ‘‘It’s like: ‘I’ve got a gold mine in Eastern Europe.’ Or: going to be driving the agenda,’’ he told me. ‘‘Not Congress.’’
‘My client is suing the I.R.S. — can you help?’ ’’
Not all of the new arrivals affected to be part of a revolution. One After New Zealand, Stryk’s phone barely stopped ringing, and he quickly
day this spring, I met with Brian Ballard, a veteran Florida lobbyist and built up his own shop. Stuart Jolly, the ex-Trump campaign aide who worked
top-tier Republican fund-raiser. Ballard had recently opened an office in out the phone call for New Zealand, became the new president of S.P.G.
Washington just a few blocks from the new Trump International Hotel. Stryk hired a former Central Intelligence Agency station chief and a few
He had known Trump since the 1980s, and he later started lobbying reg- other ex-military and intelligence types, people who had contacts and experulators and state officials on behalf of Trump’s golf courses and his Palm tise abroad. He also brought on an earnest young small-town lawyer from
The New York Times Magazine
Oregon named Jacob Daniels, whom he met through
biggest spenders. The country’s then-crown prince
his vineyard business. Daniels had been working out of
and minister of the interior, Mohammed bin Nayef,
his car, mostly on drunken-driving cases, when Stryk
was an exception: He enjoyed deep ties to the Amerrecommended him to Jolly for a job with the Trump
ican intelligence apparatus under President Obama
‘We’re here
campaign. Daniels ended up as the campaign’s secand had never needed a lobbyist. This spring, howfor the
ond in command in Michigan, where Trump became
ever, Trump invited Nayef’s chief rival — Mohammed
bin Salman, the deputy crown prince and the king’s
the first Republican to win in almost 30 years, making
son — to a formal White House lunch. The lunch sent
Daniels a Trumpworld rising star. Now he was Stryk’s
Not for
ripples through Riyadh. Did Trump favor Salman?
vice president of policy.
the ideology.’
Accidentally or on purpose, Trump had just waded
On a balmy spring day in April, I met Stryk and a few
of his colleagues on a terrace at the Army-Navy Country
into Saudi Arabia’s treacherous succession politics.
Club, a sprawling and immaculate golf club near the
Nayef found himself in need of guidance.
Pentagon; S.P.G. still didn’t have a proper office. Stryk
In May, S.P.G. signed a contract to provide ‘‘conwore cowboy boots and a T-shirt under a rumpled black sport coat. Most gressional and executive branch brand engagement’’ to the Saudi Ministry
of K Street, he told me, was ‘‘a washing machine. Money just goes from one of the Interior — Nayef’s domain. Stryk did not want to reveal much about
firm to another. No one creates any new wealth.’’ Stryk’s own politics leaned his work for the Saudis, but lobbying records show that the fee was $5.4
libertarian, he told me; despite his firm’s ties to the Trump team, he didn’t million, payable up front.
think of himself as particularly Trumpy. One of the new hires, a Democratic
That was the other thing about foreign lobbying: It paid even better
foreign-policy veteran, had been good friends with Paul Wellstone, the liberal than corporate lobbying. Inevitably, Stryk had competition.
senator who died in 2002. ‘‘We’re here for the opportunities,’’ Stryk said. ‘‘Not
for the ideology.’’
Stryk was focusing not on nervous companies but on nervous countries.
He and his new team had made a list of the governments S.P.G. wanted
to work for — NATO allies mostly, nothing iffy like Ukraine or Pakistan —
and with New Zealand as his calling card, they pitched S.P.G. as the go-to
foreign lobbying and advisory firm in Trump’s Washington. Historically,
foreign lobbying has been a specialized business dominated by a few big
firms. Stryk viewed them as he viewed the rest of the lobbying industry:
as a cartel ripe for disruption. Stryk pitched his clients policy expertise,
round-the-clock work habits and personalized service.
Stryk believed his team could penetrate the uncertainty surrounding the White House. He wanted to be a ‘‘calming resource for foreign
countries and businesses,’’ he told me — and there was a lot of calming
to do. Over the course of a few months, the new president had managed
to start a trade war with Canada, picked a fight with the prime minister with Trump’s America First campaign pledge, Barry Bennett once told reportof Australia and hinted that the United States might need to pull out of ers that Avenue would not work for foreign governments. Foreign politicians
NATO. He also wanted to slash the State Department budget, and through were another matter. By March, Bennett was sitting in the lobby of the Trump
the spring and summer, many senior jobs at State would remain unfilled. International Hotel with an Albanian party leader named Lulzim Basha.
Everyone, even close allies, was looking for Sherpas and back doors. R.
Basha was the young chairman of the Democratic Party of Albania, the
Nicholas Burns, the veteran American diplomat, told me that Trump’s country’s conservative party, which was looking to unseat the ruling Socialdenuded State Department had left diplomats from perhaps a hundred ist Party in elections scheduled for June. Basha borrowed liberally from
countries — most of them smaller nations — without their traditional Trump’s playbook; he had attacked the Socialists for being in bed with crime
liaison to the United States government. ‘‘There’s never been anything syndicates and, simultaneously, with George Soros, whose foundation
was active in Albania. His slogan was ‘‘Make Albania Great Again.’’ Now,
like this, ever,’’ Burns said.
Trump’s statecraft had a way of generating new business in other according to Bennett, Basha wanted help beating the Socialists in June —
ways, too. The president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, was not and who better to advise him than a couple of Trump-campaign veterans?
a popular figure in Barack Obama’s Washington: A right-wing populist Bennett told me that it was a cordial meeting and that he later sent Basha
who preached closer ties to Russia, he once banned the United States a proposed contract. ‘‘I told him we’d love to be his political consultant,’’
ambassador from Prague Castle, the Czech seat of government. Trump, Bennett said. (Through a representative, Basha declined to comment.)
naturally, invited him to Washington, and Zeman’s government hired
Through an intermediary, the Albanian Democrats also reached out
Stryk’s firm to help plan the state visit. New Zealand needed to talk to the to Ballard, who was making his own push into foreign lobbying. He had
administration about a new bilateral trade agreement, now that Trump brought on board a couple of partners with experience in Eastern Europe
was withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. A Korean trade and Latin America, including a former Democratic congressman and a forassociation wanted help planning a conference in Washington but didn’t mer ambassador. ‘‘They called me,’’ Ballard said of Basha’s party. ‘‘I wouldn’t
know anyone in the Trump White House. Stryk’s people got on the phone, know Albania in an atlas.’’ Ballard told them he couldn’t help them. He was
cold-calling around the Commerce Department to find a senior official already working with the Albanian Socialists.
When a friend referred the Socialists to him, Ballard told me, he had two
who would speak at the event. ‘‘Most lobbyists are afraid of a ‘no,’ ’’ Stryk
questions. ‘‘I asked: ‘Is it a democracy?’ Yes. ‘Are they an ally of the U.S.?’
said. ‘‘A ‘no’ means you have no juice. I’m not afraid of ‘no.’ ’’
But Stryk’s greatest coup was Saudi Arabia. Gulf-state oligarchs spend Yes.’’ The Socialists had a story that was becoming increasingly familiar
tens of millions of dollars a year lobbying in Washington and larding in Washington. After Trump won, most of the American diplomats their
influential think tanks with grant money, and Saudi Arabia is one of the government had worked with seemed to vanish, and no one replaced them.
Prop stylist: Gozde Eker
One Albanian official, who asked not to be identified by name, told me his
government felt that ‘‘we had to increase our presence in Washington.’’
I asked him how his government picked Ballard. ‘‘The internet makes it
easy,’’ he told me. ‘‘You just Google.’’
But as companies and countries vied for Trump’s ear over the spring,
the new Trump lobbyists found themselves competing with one another
as much as with the established Washington firms. Ballard, for example,
had explored working for members of the Venezuelan opposition. (‘‘I’m no
world-peace guy,’’ he told me, ‘‘but I think I can help a little bit.’’) Lewandowski’s firm, meanwhile, was pitching Citgo, the American subsidiary
of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. (Avenue eventually signed Citgo,
and in August the Trump administration would partly exempt the company
from a new round of sanctions on the Venezuelan government.) Ballard
was also working out a $1.5 million contract with Turkey — which put
him up against Brad Gerstman, Trump’s old New York guy. Gerstman’s
firm, Gotham Government Relations, had signed up a company linked to
Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric whom the Turkish
government blames for fomenting last year’s failed coup.
Not many lobbyists wanted to represent the Gulenists, partly because
Trump appeared to have already picked a side. When President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey won a widely disputed referendum in April
granting himself expanded powers, Trump called to congratulate him.
When Erdogan visited the White House some weeks later, Trump praised
the bravery of Turkish soldiers and talked about beating ISIS together.
I watched Erdogan and Trump’s joint news conference on TV with
Gerstman, who had been hired to spread the word about Erdogan’s
worldwide oppression of Gulenists. When Erdogan referred to the Gulen
‘‘terrorist organization,’’ you could see Trump purse his lips during the
translation, then nod a few times. It wasn’t totally clear what the president was nodding about. Gerstman remained hopeful. ‘‘Our view is that
six months from now, everything is going to look different,’’ he told me.
Magnet by Delcan & Company. Photo illustration by Sam Kaplan for The New York Times.
‘‘It’s fluid. It’s dynamic.’’ He looked thoughtful. ‘‘One thing we know about
President Trump is he’s not afraid to change.’’
One afternoon in late April, Jolly, Stryk’s marquee Trumpworld hire, called
me out of the blue. He was leaving S.P.G., he said. He told me he had grown
uncomfortable with the firm’s auditions for foreign clients, so he was going
back to his own political-consulting business.
Stryk was having his own qualms. Lewandowski had beaten him on
some pitches, Stryk was told by prospective clients, by promising that
he could get Trump on the phone — a promise Stryk felt he could not
make. ‘‘We don’t sell access to Trump,’’ he told me. ‘‘I don’t know Donald
Trump.’’ He was increasingly impatient with the notion that he was simply
providing entree to the new administration. He was in negotiations to
acquire a small design and branding firm. He saw S.P.G. evolving into
something bigger and more stable, a full-service ‘‘advisory’’ company
that could compete with the most sophisticated shops on K Street — and
beyond. Stryk saw Lewandowski’s firm, and some of the others associated with the new administration, as short-term plays. They could sell
access or surf the disruption, but he aimed to outlast it. ‘‘Do they have
business outside of this Trump phenomenon?’’ Stryk mused. ‘‘The talk
around town is, how long does this last before the business goes back to
the establishment?’’
Among the new arrivals, Ballard, at least, was doing pretty well. After
only a few months in Washington, he had signed up more than 30 clients:
energy companies, insurers, Amazon, American Airlines. The new Washington office would soon be on track to make $15 million in 2017, almost
as much as his firm reported making in Florida last year. Ballard, unlike
some of his competitors, was at ease in the swamp. He didn’t want to beat
the Washington establishment; he was here to join it. ‘‘There’s no big firm
that should worry about us,’’ Ballard told me. ‘‘We augment other people,
or they augment us. The Trump guys are not going to take over the town.’’
If anything, the Trump guys were learning the downsides
of proximity to the president. By spring, the Justice Department had appointed a special counsel to probe Russian
interference in the 2016 presidential election, an investigation that would quickly reach into the president’s inner
circle. The various White House factions seemed to spend
as much time planting negative press on one another as
they did figuring out what the president should do. When
the White House got involved in big legislative battles, like
the Obamacare repeal effort, it tended to hurt, not help.
Proximity was proving an especially mixed blessing
for Lewandowski. A stream of news stories had detailed
promises he was supposedly making to clients, which he
mostly denied — not just phone calls with Trump but also
visits with White House officials and even access to Trump’s
Twitter account. In late April, Politico reported that Lewandowski and Bennett also owned another, separate company
called Washington East West Political Strategies. This new
firm, a vehicle for overseas consulting, had circulated at
least one written proposal promising to arrange meetings
with Trump and other administration officials, seeming to
undercut Lewandowski’s earlier denials. I later obtained a
copy of the proposal, which named the potential client: Edi
Rama, Albania’s Socialist prime minister. The new firm — or
as Bennett later explained, a business associate in Europe,
acting without authorization — had pitched opposing candidates in the same campaign.
Official Washington professed itself to be aghast at
Lewandowski, who did not bother to couch his sales
pitches in the Beltway’s customary
(Continued on Page 52)
The New York Times Magazine
By choice, for less than $2 an hour,
the female inmate firefighters of California
work their bodies to the breaking
point. Sometimes they even risk their lives.
By Jaime Lowe
Photographs by Peter Bohler
hawna Lynn Jones climbed from the
back of a red truck with ‘‘L.A. County Fire’’ printed on its side. Ten more
women piled out after her, at a spot on the border
of Agoura Hills and Malibu, in Southern California.
They could see flames in the vicinity of Mulholland
Highway, from a fire that had been burning for
about an hour. Jones and her crew wore helmets
and yellow Nomex fire-retardant suits; yellow
handkerchiefs covered their mouths and necks.
Each woman carried 50 pounds of equipment in
her backpack: gloves, flares, food, full water bottles, safety and medical gear and an emergency
shelter, in case they were surrounded by flames.
As the ‘‘second saw,’’ Jones was one of two women
who carried a chain saw with her. She was also one
of California’s 250 or so female-inmate firefighters.
Jones worked side by side with Jessica
Ornelas, the ‘‘second bucker,’’ who collected
whatever wood Jones cut down. Together they
were responsible for ‘‘setting the line,’’ which
meant clearing potential fuel from a six-foot-wide
stretch of ground between whatever was burning
and the land they were trying to protect. If they
did their job right, a fire might be contained. But
any number of things could quickly go wrong — a
slight wind shift, the fall of a burning tree — and
the fire would jump the break.
‘‘This is what I get for wishing for live flames,’’
Jones said to Ornelas on the truck ride.
It was just after 3 a.m. on Feb. 25, 2016, when
Malibu 13-3, the 12-woman crew Jones belonged
to, arrived at the Mulholland fire, ahead of any
aerial support or local fire trucks. The inmates
— including men, roughly 4,000 prisoners fight
wildfires alongside civilian firefighters throughout California — immediately went to work. They
operated in hookline formation, moving in order
of rank, which was determined by task and ability. Fire captains divide the line into the cutting
section and the scraping section. The first saw,
or hook, leads; second saw is next. The Pulaskis,
nicknamed for their tool, a type of shovel, follow. The McLeods, also named for their hand
tool, rake the scorched remains. Mulholland was
Jones’s first fire as second saw; she was promoted
the previous week. It took only four months for
captains to notice her after she began training,
and she quickly rose from the back of the hookline, where all inmates start, to the front.
This part of Southern California, inland from
the Pacific Coast Highway, is full of ravines and
dry brush. Season after season, its protected
lands are prone to landslides, flash floods and
wildfires. The women scrambled over a slope
that was full of loose soil and rocks, which made
digging the containment line — a trench of sorts
— even more challenging. ‘‘It was very steep,’’
Tyquesha Brown, a member of the crew who was
there, told me. ‘‘The fire was jumping.’’ As the
crew moved toward the flames, tools in hand,
the firefighters kept a distance of 10 feet between
each other and called out conditions.
Ornelas could tell that Jones was struggling
with the weight of her chain saw as they hiked
up the slope. ‘‘I was pushing her, she was sliding
down,’’ Ornelas says. ‘‘It was just too heavy for
her. She wasn’t used to the weight.’’ With every
step they took forward, it felt as if they were slipping at least one step back. But by 7:30 a.m., a
little more than a third of the fire was considered
contained. Crew 13-3 had done its job: the fire
didn’t jump the line; it didn’t threaten homes or
ranches or coastal properties.
By 10 the next morning, Jones was dead. She
was 22. Her three-year sentence had less than
two months to go.
California’s inmate firefighters choose to take
part in the grinding and dangerous work they do.
And they get paid for it, though not much. They
have to pass a fitness test before they can qualify
for fire camps. But once they are accepted into
a camp, the training they receive, which often
lasts as little as three weeks, is significantly less
than the three-year apprenticeship that full-time
civilian firefighters get.
Inmate labor in California goes back to the mid19th century and the earliest official state prison,
located on the Waban, a 268-ton ship. In 1852, its
prisoners slept on deck at night and spent their
days building San Quentin, the state’s first permanent prison. By 1923, California’s road crews,
made up of inmates who worked on highway construction, were receiving wages, albeit low wages,
for their labor. During World War II, California
turned its prisons into factories for the military
industry and moved inmates into the temporary
forestry camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps,
a public work-relief program created during the
Depression. They built roads, harvested crops and
repaired infrastructure. In 1946, as part of Gov.
Earl Warren’s Prisoner Rehabilitation Act, the state
opened Camp Rainbow which — under the joint
supervision of the state’s Division of Forestry and
the California Department of Corrections (later
renamed the California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) — housed inmates to clear fire lines. This setup
was so cost-effective that by 1959 Gov. Edmund G.
Brown promised to double the size of the Conservation Camp Program. It now partners with Cal
Fire and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
‘‘Any fire you go on statewide, whether it be small
or large, the inmate hand crews make up anywhere
from 50 to 80 percent of the total fire personnel,’’
says Lt. Keith Radey, the commander who is in
charge of a camp where women train.
When they work, California’s inmates typically
earn between 8 cents and 95 cents an hour. They
make office furniture for state employees, state
license plates, prison uniforms, anything that any
state institution might use. But wages in the forestry program, while still wildly low by outside
Photograph by Peter Bohler for The New York Times
Above: Raven Vasquez, left, a chain-saw operator from Malibu Camp, and Megan Clark, her
‘‘puller,’’ the person who pulls brush out of the way, work the Detwiler fire in Mariposa County in July.
Opening pages: A crew from Rainbow Camp cutting the line on a small fire near Hemet, in June.
standards, are significantly better than the rest.
At Malibu 13, one of three conservation camps
that house women, the commander, John Scott,
showed me a printout: Inmate firefighters can
make a maximum of $2.56 a day in camp and $1
an hour when they’re fighting fires.
Those higher wages recognize the real dangers that inmate firefighters face. In May, one
man was crushed by a falling tree in Humboldt
County; in July, another firefighter died within a
week after accidentally cutting his leg and femoral artery on a chain saw. But, after visiting three
camps over a year and a half, I could see why
inmates would accept the risks. Compared with
life among the general prison population, the
conservation camps are bastions of civility. They
are less violent and offer more space. They smell
of eucalyptus, the ocean, fresh blooms. They provide barbecue areas for families who visit; one
camp has a small cabin where relatives can stay
with an inmate for up to three days. They have
woodworking areas, softball fields and libraries
full of donated mysteries and romance novels. ‘‘I
always up-talk the program,’’ an inmate named
Amber Sapp told me. She noted how the quality
of time served is so much better than that in most
correctional facilities. ‘‘You see it on the women’s
faces, on the staff ’s faces.’’
Still, when they’re at work, the inmates look
like chain gangs without the chains, especially
The New York Times Magazine
when out working in Malibu, where the average
annual household income is $238,000. ‘‘The pay is
ridiculous,’’ La’Sonya Edwards, 35, told me during
a break from clearing a fire road. ‘‘There are some
days we are worn down to the core,’’ she said.
‘‘And this isn’t that different from slave conditions. We need to get paid more for what we do.’’
Edwards makes about $500 a year in camp, plus
whatever she earns while on the fire line, which
might add up to a few hundred dollars in a month;
the pay for a full-time civilian firefighter starts at
about $40,000. In 1999, in a study funded by the
Open Society Institute, five prominent economists argued for basic worker rights, including
minimum wages, for inmates. Those standards
have not been widely embraced, however. David
Fathi, the director of the A.C.L.U. National Prison
Project, who opposes all forms of prison labor,
told me, ‘‘I think one important question to ask
is, if these people are safe to be out and about and
carrying axes and chain saws, maybe they didn’t
need to be in prison in the first place.’’
C.D.C.R. says that the firefighter program
is intended to serve as rehabilitation for the
inmates. Yet they’re being trained to work in a
field they will probably have trouble finding a job
in when they get out: Los Angeles County Fire
won’t hire felons and C.D.C.R. doesn’t offer any
formal help to inmates who want firefighting jobs
when they’re released.
This institutional disinterest makes more
sense when inmate firefighters, who are
on-call continuously, are considered as a state
resource. The Conservation Camp Program
saves California taxpayers approximately $100
million a year, according to C.D.C.R. Several
states, including Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming
and Georgia employ prisoners to fight fires,
but none of them rely as heavily on its inmate
population as California does. In the fall of 2014,
as the state’s courts were taking up the issue
of overcrowded prisons, the office of California’s attorney general argued against shrinking
the number of inmates. Doing so, it claimed,
‘‘would severely impact fire camp participation, a dangerous outcome while California is
in the middle of a difficult fire season and severe
drought.’’ In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown told a local
CBS affiliate, ‘‘It’s very important when we can
quantify that manpower, utilize it.’’
After five years, that drought is over, thanks
to a much-needed rainy season earlier this year
that produced the rare ‘‘super bloom’’ — vast,
thick patches of orange, magenta and purple
blossoms among the lime-green grasses. And
yet experts still worry about this year in particular: The last time a drought ended, in 2010, the
following fire season was even more extreme
than the previous one. Rain caused more grass
to grow in places it ordinarily wouldn’t, and
when summer temperatures regularly top 100
degrees, that grass dries out and becomes kindling. In addition, an estimated 102 million trees
in California have been killed by the bark beetle since 2010; the insect, which is the size of a
rice grain, has been attacking pines, oaks and
cedars, leaving behind dry wood husks and a
heightened risk of large, severe wildfires. The
2010 fire season was bad; this season could be
catastrophic. A total of more than 5,000 fires
have burned 460,000 acres already. Faced with
the prospect of a state in flames, California
Photographs by Peter Bohler for The New York Times
From left: Marquet Jones, a chain-saw operator with Rainbow Camp; Sandra Rojas
of Malibu Camp; Dionne Davis of Rainbow Camp; Sarah Meenahan of Rainbow Camp.
continues to depend on its inmate firefighters
as a tenuous and all-but-invisible line of defense.
‘‘I lost count,’’ Marquet Jones, a firefighter arrest-
ed for first-degree burglary, told me with a shake
of her head when I asked her how many fires
she had been on over the previous year. ‘‘I don’t
know how many fires there were last season, but
all through last season.’’ The fire season typically
runs from mid-May through November.
She recalled her first fire last year, going into
Napa Valley as residents were evacuating. The
town was burned over; cars were blackened. She
wondered what she had got herself into. Despite
her fear and strained nerves, she cut the containment line for 10 hours, almost until dawn.
The heavy labor and the danger create a bond
among the crew members. ‘‘I can say, coming
from the streets, when you’re with your fire crew,
that’s your family,’’ Edwards said. Of the 30 or so
women I met, most were serving prison terms
because of drug- or alcohol-related crimes,
nonviolent convictions that the state classifies
as low-level. All had been drawn to the forestry
camps by the relative freedom and the chance to
make more money than they could doing other
prison jobs. But many said the real education
they were getting had to do with making and
maintaining relationships. ‘‘It helps you to work
as a sister crew,’’ Marquet said. ‘‘You learn how
to work with them, you know — ’cause, really all
you have is each other when you’re on a fire.’’
Some inmates say they would work the fireline
for free — for the experience, the training, the
gratification of doing something useful. ‘‘It feels
good,’’ Marquet said, ‘‘when you see kids with
signs saying, ‘Thank you for saving my house,
thank you for saving my dog.’ It feels good that you
saved somebody’s home, you know? Some people, they look down on us because we’re inmates.’’
Marquet, who is 27, already had two strikes
against her when she was arrested. ‘‘I was just
under the influence on meth and just felt like
doing something. When you’re under that
drug, you really just go with the flow. You feel
like you’re invincible. Can’t no one stop you —
you’re just the king or the queen of the world.
I got under the influence and started walking
down the street, saw a house with the window
open and decided to go in. Through the window.’’
Now, her young boys — Bernard and Unique,
both under 10 — live with her older sister. They
haven’t been able to visit, but Marquet goes to
evening prayer meetings in one of the common
spaces at Rainbow. ‘‘I go Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday,’’ she said. ‘‘And I’m starting
to go Friday, too. But it’s not really church. It’s
‘Moms in Prayer.’ We pray for our kids.’’
There are three all-female camps: the one at
Rainbow, between San Diego and Los Angeles,
also known as Conservation Camp No. 2; the
one at Malibu, or Conservation Camp No. 13;
and one at Puerta la Cruz, just east of Temecula,
called Conservation Camp No. 14. Their grounds
could pass for spiritual retreats. They are places
of calm as much as training grounds; one inmate
incarcerated in Malibu, for example, leads yoga
and meditation sessions. Vegetable gardens are
tended by inmates after work hours; there are
the remnants of a boxing camp that complement the weight-lifting facility. Malibu is kissed
with salt air and shade; Rainbow and Port are
The New York Times Magazine
hiking paradises. All the inmates eat civilian food
cooked by other inmates: rib-eye steak and lobster and sometimes all-you-can-eat shrimp. But
the benefits of greater freedom and superior food
also come with a physical cost. ‘‘Your feet are hot
and tired, and they have a pulse of their own,’’
Marquet said. ‘‘You feel like you can’t breathe,
but you’re breathing. Your face feels like it’s about
to melt off, but it’s there. It’s just — you have to
be aware of everything.’’ Otherwise, she added,
‘‘you’re not going to survive.’’
Shawna Lynn Jones could take apart her chain
saw and put it back together effortlessly. She could
fix the machine when it kicked back, sharpen
the chain when it dulled, clean the clutch cover.
The calluses on her hands came from working
the saw — it was an extension of her body. You
don’t get to be second saw without knowing your
machine intimately and taking your job seriously.
The night of the Mulholland fire, Jones was frustrated, according to Jessica Ornelas. It was taking
a long time for the civilian crews to get the hoses
up the ravine. So she ran down the rocky hillside
and brought them up herself.
Jones didn’t grow up with dreams of being
a firefighter. She wanted to be a police officer.
The first photo her mom, Diana Baez, showed
me was of a cocky young girl of around 5 or 6
dressed up for career day. Jones is wearing navy
blue head-to-toe and aviator shades. She has a
death grip on a plastic baton and holds a leash
tethered to the neck of a stuffed Goofy doll. ‘‘She
always wanted to be a K-9 handler, and here she
was dressed like one,’’ Baez said. We were sitting
in a dark, wood-paneled bar — the Trap, a dusty
oasis on the fringes of Lancaster, a town already
on the fringes of Southern California in the high
desert of the Antelope Valley. Before Jones was
incarcerated, this was her home. Her mom managed the bar; much of her extended family was
in a hard-rock band called Seconds to Centuries
(SIIC) that played the back room.
Jones was smart, but as a teenager she couldn’t
sit still in class. Eventually she dropped out of
high school to work at a mortuary owned by a
boyfriend’s family. The job ended when the relationship did. She had a string of boyfriends, most
of them bad, and in May 2014, she was caught
sitting in a car next to one of them and a large
quantity of crystal methamphetamine. He had
a lengthy record and didn’t want to be locked
up for life. He told Jones he would bail her out
if she took responsibility for the drugs. Jones
was convicted of possession with attempt to
distribute methamphetamine and of marijuana
possession. The boyfriend kept his promise and
paid the $30,000 bail, and Jones was sentenced
to three years’ probation.
She was trapped in Lancaster. ‘‘No one can get
out of here, it’s like we’re all stuck,’’ Rosa Garcia,
Jones’s friend, said. Jones helped her mom run
the Trap’s karaoke nights (screaming expletives of
denial whenever someone sang ‘‘Like a Virgin’’),
and she made some extra money by drawing on
patrons’ flat-billed snapback baseball caps. She
sold merchandise at her friends’ shows; hustled
pool; bummed cigarettes; wrote poetry; smoked
weed; and skateboarded, sometimes all night. In
some pictures from SIIC shows, her leggings are
ripped and her eyeliner is winged to perfection,
and she’s standing victoriously over a riotous
crowd. ‘‘I could always count on Shawna being
right there, right in front of me, center stage,
every single time,’’ Jae Paige Dion, the lead singer
of SIIC, said. ‘‘She had no problem getting in the
mosh pits and knocking down all the guys.’’ Jones
was fearless. Her Facebook photos show her sticking her tongue out aggressively, flashing a middle
finger at a friend’s cellphone camera; there are
shots of her belly red and raw from being slapped.
Within a year of the methamphetamine arrest,
Jones was back in trouble. She had violated
parole at least three times — stealing puppy food,
stealing groceries, selling marijuana, missing
court dates — before a warrant was issued for
her arrest. Jones decided to turn herself in. On
June 2, 2015, she wrote on her Facebook page: ‘‘I
can only handle so much bad stuff at one time.
and I have reached my quota for the year so it
can stop now. I want some good stuff to happen soon.’’ The Trap hosted a party. Rosa Garcia
got the dollar taco guy to bring his truck to the
parking lot. ‘‘We basically ordered one million
tacos so that she would remember what real food
tastes like,’’ Garcia said. Dion made her a personalized T-shirt with her nickname, ‘‘Baby Hooker,’’
scrawled on it, which everyone signed, and by the
next day she was ready. Jones hugged her mom,
who was crying, and skated off on her longboard
toward the Lancaster courthouse to turn herself
in. Jones admitted to the court that she failed to
comply with her probation conditions, and she
was sentenced to three years. She heard about the
forestry program during one of the 238 days she
spent in the county jail: The women all spoke of it
as a prison Shangri-La — lobster, shrimp, ocean
breezes. Six months after leaving the county jail,
Jones was transferred to Malibu.
By November 2015, Jones was calling her
mom weekly to tell her about the training, about
the exhaustion after sandbagging a hillside to
prevent flooding and about the optional weekend hikes that she always went on through the
canyons of Malibu. She had found something in
this sort of work, something she liked. It reminded her of a not-too-distant past. In high school,
she camped out with friends on Shaver Lake
in the Sierra Nevada mountains, plunged into
cold lakes from rocky cliffs and boogie-boarded
at the beach. She etched her initials with her
boyfriend’s, ‘‘C.C. + S.J.,’’ on the side of a rusted beach picnic table. Her enthusiasm was so
great it convinced her mother that Jones’s luck
Photograph by Peter Bohler for The New York Times
Firefighters from Crew 13-4 of Camp Malibu on a lunch break at Nicholas
Canyon Beach after completing a training exercise on Sept. 30, 2016.
was changing. Baez was already planning her
daughter’s welcome-home party.
On the morning of the Mulholland fire, Feb. 25,
an unknown number flashed on Diana Baez’s cellphone around 10 a.m. It flashed again and again
and again. Baez kept declining the call until it
seemed like something she shouldn’t ignore.
‘‘There’s been an accident,’’ a man told her when
she answered. Baez, immediately hysterical,
asked, ‘‘Where is my daughter?’’ He paused and
said, ‘‘I can’t tell you because she’s an inmate.’’
An hour later, when the Lancaster sheriff ’s office
called with numbers and instructions, Baez
scrawled as much information as she could on her
bedroom mirror using eyeliner. The sheriff told
her that Jones was not admitted under her birth
name, because of her incarcerated status. He told
Baez that when she got to the U.C.L.A. hospital,
she should ask for ‘‘Hawaii X.’’ She arrived to find
her daughter lying unconscious on a gurney.
‘‘The first thing I did when I opened that
curtain and I saw her — I grabbed her — right
there, I grabbed her, and I said, ‘You promised
me,’ ’’ Baez told me. ‘‘She just called me two
days before, and she said, ‘Momma, I’m coming home in six weeks,’ so I freaking told her,
‘You promised me.’ ’’ Baez hardly recognized her
daughter. Her face was swollen; her eyes were
taped shut so that they wouldn’t dry out; her head
had been shaved because
(Continued on Page 55)
The New York Times Magazine
Democracy vs. Math
Sophisticated computer modeling has taken gerr
to new extremes. To fix this, courts might
have to learn how to run the numbers themselve
In the late spring of 2011, Dale Schultz walked
the short block in Madison from his State
Senate office in the Wisconsin Capitol to the
glass-paneled building of Michael Best & Friedrich, a law firm with deep ties to his Republican Party. First elected in 1982, Schultz placed
himself within the progressive tradition that
made Wisconsin, a century ago, the birthplace
of the state income tax and laws that guarantee compensation for injured workers. In
the months before his visit to Michael Best,
Schultz cast the lone Republican vote against
Wisconsin State Assembly Elections
(before and after redistricting in 2011)
a bill that stripped collective-bargaining rights
from most public employees. But if Schultz had
doubts about some of his party’s priorities, he
welcomed its ascendance to power. For the first
time in his career, Republicans controlled the
State Senate and the State Assembly as well
as the governor’s office, giving them total
sway over the redistricting process that follows the census taken at the beginning of each
decade. ‘‘The way I saw it, reapportionment is
a moment of opportunity for the ruling party,’’
Schultz told me this summer.
Inside the law firm’s doors, Schultz took the
elevator to what party aides called the ‘‘map
room.’’ They asked him to sign a nondisclosure
agreement, which he did without complaint.
Schultz sat down and was given a map with the
new lines for his rural district west of Madison.
He and his wife, a former school superintendent,
Credit by Name Surname
By Emily Bazelon
Infographics by Cat
own a 210-acre farm in the area, where they grow
corn and beans and hunt pheasants. Schultz
noticed that the newly drawn district mostly
included precincts he’d won before. ‘‘I took one
look at the map and saw that if I chose to run
for re-election I could win, no trouble,’’ Schultz
remembered. ‘‘That was it.’’
Nearly all of the 79 Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly made a similar
trip to the map room, signing the same secrecy
pledge to see the new shape of their districts.
The new maps efficiently concentrated many
Population density per square mile
2010 Census
< 10
Democratic voters in a relatively small number
of urban districts and spread out the remainder
among many districts in the rest of the state.
These are the twin techniques of gerrymandering, often called packing and cracking, which
distribute voters to benefit the party that is
drawing the district lines.
‘‘So glad we are in control!’’ one state senator
wrote in an email to a key Republican aide after
her visit. No Democrat was invited to Michael
Best & Friedrich, though the Republican leadership paid $400,000 in legal fees on behalf of
Sandra Day O’Connor and Clarence Thomas, questioned the premise that courts could
address partisan gerrymandering. They rejected
the Pennsylvania voters’ claim and voted to shut
the door on such suits in the future. The Constitution explicitly gave state lawmakers the power
to draw the lines, Scalia pointed out, providing
that Congress may also ‘‘make or alter’’ them —
while saying nothing about a role for the courts.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy voted with the
four conservatives against the Pennsylvania voters but, writing for himself, said that while no
case struck down the state’s 2011 redistricting
law. The Republicans appealed to the Supreme
Court, which will hear the case on Oct. 3.
The outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision
in Gill v. Whitford is likely to shape American
politics for years and perhaps decades to come.
Dale Schultz now wishes he had opposed the Wisconsin Assembly map. ‘‘When you talk to people
about our government, the thing they tell you is
it’s rigged,’’ says Schultz, who left the State Senate in 2015. ‘‘The redistricting we have now is the
essence of that. Some people’s votes don’t count
for much anymore. We have to change that.’’
of Votes
Since 2010, the number of competitive races in
of Votes
of Votes
‘‘workable standard’’ yet existed for striking down
a redistricting plan on the basis of excessive partisanship, such a standard could yet emerge.
Political scientists and mathematicians have
been trying ever since to create a standard that
will satisfy Kennedy — still the court’s crucial
swing vote. They argue that with the help of
experts, courts themselves can use the mapmakers’ advanced tools to assess and block
gerrymandering. Last November, relying on
the same kind of analyses as the map drafters,
the three-judge panel in the second Wisconsin
House elections has shrunk. That’s partly because
Democrats increasingly cluster in blue cities, geographically limiting their voting power. But it’s also
because redistricting has become more targeted as
voters have become more predictable. Once you
join Team Red or Team Blue, you’re likely to stay
on it. ‘‘If you know how everyone is going to vote,
and where they’re going to live, then you have all
the information you need,’’ says Nathaniel Persily,
a Stanford law professor who has served as a courtappointed redistricting expert in several states.
Both parties use gerrymandering to cement
their hold on power. The effects are especially
clear nationwide for congressional delegations,
according to a 2012 analysis by the Brennan Center. In the 17 states where Republicans drew the
maps this decade — for 40 percent of the total
House seats in the country — their candidates won
about 53 percent of the vote and 72 percent of the
seats. In the six states where Democrats drew the
lines, for only about 10 percent of the House, their
candidates won about 56 percent of the vote and
71 percent of the seats. In the remaining states,
the parties shared control over redistricting, or a
court or an appointed commission drew the lines,
or there were none to draw because there is only
one congressional district.
The Supreme Court has long acknowledged
that redistricting is first the province of the State
Legislature while being willing to wade into disputes over it. In 1964, the court upheld the newly
established rule of ‘‘one person, one vote’’ to end
the practice of wildly uneven apportionment,
which produced, for example, a map in Vermont
with a State Assembly district for only 36 people
and California State Senate districts that varied
from 14,000 people to six million. Earl Warren,
the chief justice who presided over an array of
major decisions, including the order to desegregate schools, called it ‘‘the most important case of
my tenure on the court.’’ Over the decades, lower
courts have commonly overseen mapmaking to
ensure that states draw districts roughly equal in
population. Courts have also regularly monitored
redistricting for racial bias. Beginning in the
1960s, the Supreme Court ruled that legislators
can’t carve up maps to intentionally diminish the
Infographic by Cataloguetree. Data by Campaign Legal Center.
the Legislature as a whole. In July, the statewide
maps were unveiled at a single public hearing.
The Legislature passed the plan a week later,
with the support of every Republican, including
Schultz, and no Democrats. In the next election, in November 2012, Republicans won only
47 percent of the vote but 60 of 99 seats in the
Assembly. In the midterm year of 2014, they
won 57 percent of the Assembly vote and 63
seats, and in 2016, they won about 53 percent
of the Assembly vote and 64 seats. Wisconsin is
a purple state: Barack Obama won it twice, and
Donald Trump barely carried it, by 22,000 votes.
But one-party control continues to produce policies — more union busting, abortion restrictions
and lately $3 billion in proposed tax credits for
the electronics giant Foxconn — associated with
a deep-red electorate. ‘‘I’d never seen anything
like that before,’’ Schultz said of the election
results that followed the redistricting. ‘‘I started to see how powerful and unbelievable the
redistricting process was.’’
The Republicans tried hard to keep the mapmaking process a secret. But they weren’t successful. In the first of two lawsuits brought by
Democratic voters, three federal judges berated
Republican leaders in 2012 for ‘‘flailing wildly in a
desperate attempt to hide’’ their methods. A year
later, the court ordered Republicans to turn over
three computers. One appeared to have been tampered with, and a hard drive on a second computer had been wiped clean. But in 2016, a computer
expert hired by the plaintiffs in the second lawsuit
found, on another hard drive, spreadsheets that
used a powerful new gerrymandering tool, based
on sophisticated computer modeling.
The tool was created by Keith Gaddie, a
political-science professor at the University
of Oklahoma. Gaddie devised a way to measure partisanship for every precinct, which
two Republican aides and a consultant used to
draw a series of possible maps. They matched
those maps against a regression analysis that
Gaddie devised, which showed how the districts
would perform, in the aggregate, in the event
of any likely electoral outcome. By modeling
everything from a typical split between Republicans and Democrats to a big swing toward
either party, Gaddie’s techniques allowed the
mapmakers to distribute voters with maximum advantage for Republicans, without fear
of spreading their own supporters too thinly
and thus imperiling safe seats.
When the Wisconsin Legislature enacted
the maps into law, the Supreme Court had
never struck down a redistricting plan on the
basis of partisanship. In a key 2004 case, Vieth
v. Jubelirer, three Democrats in Pennsylvania
sued the Republican-controlled Assembly for
gerrymandering the state’s congressional maps.
Justice Antonin Scalia, in an opinion joined by
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices
power of black voters, and in the 1980s, Congress
amended the Voting Rights Act to make states
redraw maps if they have a discriminatory effect.
The Democratic plaintiffs who are challenging
Wisconsin’s map in Gill v. Whitford, represented
by the Campaign Legal Center, will argue to the
Supreme Court next month that partisan gerrymandering, like racial gerrymandering, violates
voters’ rights to be treated equally. They will
also offer a second argument, based on the First
Amendment, that comes from Justice Kennedy.
He suggested in Vieth v. Jubelirer that gerrymandering could violate the right to freedom of
expression and association, by ‘‘subjecting a group
of voters or their party to disfavored treatment by
reason of their views.’’
Given the longstanding recognition that politics factors into redistricting, the plaintiffs in
Gill aren’t asking the Supreme Court to stop
gerrymandering entirely. They’re asking the
justices to say that extreme gerrymandering
can go too far. It’s like refereeing a boxing
match, observed two political scientists, Bernard Grofman of the University of California,
Irvine, and Gary King of Harvard, in a 2007
article for The Election Law Journal. ‘‘We take
it for granted that boxers are seeking to knock
each other’s heads off,’’ they wrote, ‘‘yet we still
distinguish between a legitimate knockdown
and one caused by a low blow.’’
Grofman and King, who have studied redistricting for decades, proposed a baseline for
assessing how much gerrymandering is too
much. It’s called partisan symmetry and has
widespread support among social scientists.
The degree to which a map deviates from
that standard is the degree of its partisan
bias. ‘‘Measuring symmetry and partisan bias
does not require ‘proportional representation’
(where each party receives the same proportion of seats as it receives in votes),’’ Grofman
and King wrote. That’s important because the
Supreme Court has rejected proportional representation, which the Constitution doesn’t provide for, as a measure of mandating fairness in
elections. Instead of dictating that a party with
46 percent of the vote takes 46 percent of the
seats, symmetry means that if Republicans win
60 percent of the seats with 46 percent of the
vote in one election, then Democrats should be
able to win 60 percent of the seats with roughly the same percentage of the vote in another
election. If election results suggest serious and
enduring bias, then courts can give the Legislature defending the maps a chance to show that
there’s an innocent explanation.
Experts for the Gill plaintiffs used multiple metrics to show a high degree of bias in Wisconsin’s
Assembly elections. In striking down the Assembly
map, the three-judge panel relied primarily on a
metric called the efficiency gap, which measures
‘‘wasted votes,’’ as described by its creators, the
University of Chicago law professor Nicholas
Stephanopoulos and the political scientist Eric
McGhee. Wasted votes are those cast for a losing
candidate or above the number a winning candidate needed to prevail. The efficiency gap is low
statewide when the number of wasted votes in a
given election is similar for both parties, and it’s
high when one side wastes votes at a far greater
rate, because its voters are densely concentrated
or thinly spread. In other words, the efficiency gap
tracks packing and cracking.
Stephanopoulos and McGhee found that
Wisconsin’s 2011 State Assembly map produced
some of the highest efficiency gaps compared
with election results in the state and in other
states over the last four decades. ‘‘It’s very rare
to have a map that’s this bad for this long,’’
Stephanopoulos told me. ‘‘And it’s really hard
to flip.’’ The three-judge panel in the Gill case
found that as long as the 2011 map remained
in place, ‘‘in any likely electoral scenario, the
number of Republican seats would not drop
below 50 percent.’’
Among the experts who think the means now
exist for courts to referee gerrymandering fairly
is Keith Gaddie, whose work enabled Wisconsin’s Republican mapmakers. In a brief submitted to the Supreme Court in August, Gaddie and
Grofman argue that social scientists can identify
exactly how much the differential treatment of
voters is ‘‘man-made’’ — a result of deliberate
efforts by the party in power to penalize the
opposition. I called Gaddie to ask how his stance
squares with his earlier role. ‘‘I didn’t draw any
maps in Wisconsin,’’ he said. ‘‘I helped them construct measures and tools. They made decisions
and drew lines.’’ When I asked if he would do
the same thing again, Gaddie said, ‘‘I don’t do
this work anymore,’’ and hung up.
In their brief to the Supreme Court, Republi-
cans in the Wisconsin Legislature called the lower
court’s decision to strike down the 2011 maps
‘‘not only wrong, but dangerously so.’’ Accepting
the efficiency gap as a metric of partisan bias, the
brief argues, unfairly penalizes Republicans for
the geographic advantage that Democratic voters
have provided by packing themselves into cities
like Milwaukee and Madison. Allowing cases like
Gill to proceed will serve only ‘‘to increase the
federal judiciary’s already outsized role in the
redistricting process.’’
One expert on the Republicans’ side, Nicholas
Goedert, a political scientist at Virginia Tech, is
critical of the efficiency gap and the other metrics
of partisan bias, especially based on the results
of only one election. Some redistricting maps
from this decade scored high for bias one year
and then looked much better after a second
election. ‘‘Look, I’m a progressive Democrat,’’
Goedert says. ‘‘But I’m not going to advocate for
courts playing an inappropriate role and using
an inappropriate test.’’ Goedert argues that
rather than turning to the courts, opponents of
gerrymandering should push for commissions.
Bipartisan or nonpartisan appointees now draw
statehouse lines in 13 states and congressional
lines in six, including Arizona, California and
New Jersey. States with commissions tend to
have more competitive races with less partisan
bias, scholars have found.
The Supreme Court’s conservative wing will
probably argue that judges should stay out of
redistricting, just as it did in Vieth. Kennedy
could join this group and simply shut the door
on partisan gerrymandering challenges. Or he
could join the four liberals, who are likely to see
Wisconsin’s redistricting as unconstitutional,
and find that, at long last, the social scientists
have come up with the ‘‘workable standard’’ he
previously sought. The court could also tell Wisconsin that it went too far without settling on a
particular metric to be used in all future cases,
leaving it to lower courts to decide.
Kennedy may also decide that courts should
recognize party identity, not race, as the real
reason for gerrymandering in many instances.
Last year, a federal court struck down two congressional districts, drawn by the Republicancontrolled Legislature in North Carolina, for
excessively packing black voters. The Supreme
Court agreed with the lower court in May. Kennedy dissented in part, joining the conservatives
to argue that North Carolina packed the voters
not because they were black but because they
were Democrats. ‘‘Maybe a persuasive argument
to Kennedy now is, ‘O.K., we’ve been fighting
over gerrymanders through the poisonous lens
of race,’ ’’ Persily suggests. ‘‘ ‘We’d be better off
calling them what they really are — partisan
gerrymanders.’ ’’ Division by party could be less
fraught, as a focus for judges and Legislatures,
than polarization by race.
The stance that the Supreme Court takes
toward Wisconsin’s State Assembly map will
determine how courts look at the maps for congressional delegations in every state, in 2018 and
beyond. The next round of redistricting, after the
2020 census, promises to be even more brutally
efficient in maximizing partisan advantage than
the last one. At the moment, experts estimate that
to take back the House by a bare minimum of
seats, Democrats would need to win the national
popular vote by at least six points.
To Dale Schultz, that sounds like handicapping
democracy. Schultz is now co-chairman of Wisconsin’s Fair Elections Project, and he has been
traveling his state, stumping for a nonpartisan
redistricting commission. ‘‘Maybe if the Supreme
Court sees the wisdom of our argument in Gill,
that would start a chain reaction, and once and
for all, we would take redistricting away from
legislators,’’ he says. ‘‘Right now, they’re picking
the voters, instead of the other way around.’’
The New York Times Magazine
Answers to puzzles of 8.27.17
(Continued from Page 39)
1. Roulette table 2. Graham cracker 3. Guiding light 4.
Scandinavian 5. Work slowdown 6. Fleet of foot 7. Penn
and Teller 8. Eyeglasses 9. Linoleum floor 10. Altered
state 11. Short sleeves 12. Usual suspect 13. Horror show
14. Three over par 15. Radar trap 16. Baggage claim
17. Salt water taffy 18. Hot potato 19. Baseball bat 20.
Woolly mammoth 21. Electric cable 22. Funny business
23. Legal eagle 24. Cup of cocoa 25. Vanilla latte 26.
Solar array 27. Ice cream cone 28. Deadeye Dick 29.
Emmy nominee 30. Bumblebee 31. Fine dining 32. Front
tooth 33. Cherry tree 34. Big-ticket item 35. Br’er Rabbit
Answers to puzzle on Page 54
Chauffeur (3 points). Also: Archer, cache, chafe, chaff,
cheer, church, creche, earache, euchre, fuhrer, hearer,
hurrah, reach, recherche, rehear. If you found other
legitimate dictionary words in the beehive, feel free to
include them in your score.
euphemisms: He was what they pretended not to
be. Ethics watchdogs cast him as living proof of
the hollowness of Trump’s campaign promise to
‘‘drain the swamp.’’ Lewandowski disagreed. In
his view, the swamp was the sprawling, unresponsive bureaucracy, not the people you paid to help
you get your phone calls returned. Still, friends of
Lewandowski’s told me that White House officials
had advised him to keep a lower profile.
By that point, it was hard to know exactly how
well Avenue was doing. As the summer recess
drew near, the firm had disclosed fewer than 10
lobbying clients. Among them were a San Diegobased environmental consulting firm and an
Ohio payday lender — valuable clients, but not
quite blue-chip. For every Whirlpool that asked
Lewandowski for help, his rivals told me, there
was another big company that decided he was
too radioactive. Lockheed never actually signed
a contract with Avenue; when news leaked of
Lewandowski’s role in advising it on Trump, a
Lockheed spokesman issued a carefully worded statement that ‘‘Lockheed has not retained
Lewandowski, or his lobbying firm.’’ In the same
way that most big chief executives turned up their
noses at Trump during the campaign but now
hoped he would deliver tax reform and sweeping
deregulation, they wanted Lewandowski’s help
without being too closely associated with him.
Then, too, Lewandowski’s clout wasn’t always
what he promised. Puerto Rico’s government, for
example, hired Avenue to help ease the island’s
fiscal crisis. But the job pitted Lewandowski
against a coalition of hedge funds that owned
much of Puerto Rico’s debt, and whose former
lobbyist Trump had installed on his National Economic Council. The swamp’s old guard prevailed:
In late April, as Puerto Rican officials were begging Congress for more federal funding, Trump
publicly dismissed their cause in his trademark
fashion. ‘‘Democrats are trying to bail out insurance companies from disastrous #ObamaCare,
and Puerto Rico with your tax dollars,’’ Trump
tweeted. ‘‘Sad!’’
In a sense, Lewandowski’s biggest problem was
the president himself. Lewandowski had bet that
the White House would be the center of energy
and action in Trump’s Washington, but instead the
Trump administration was being swallowed by its
own chaos. Divided by factions and backbiting,
unable to wield full control of the bureaucracy or
execute on many of its own ambitions, the administration was in danger of becoming a minor player
in the policy debates of the day. Many companies
were coming to the conclusion that on complex
issues like tax reform, their energies were better
directed at lawmakers on Capitol Hill — and their
money better spent at the traditional lobbying firms
stocked with ex-lawmakers and their former aides.
Moreover, despite Trump’s campaign pledges,
many of the agencies he now oversaw had proved
more than friendly to the legions of longtime Beltway lobbyists working for the energy, telecommunications and other industries. In many cases,
Trump had hired them outright: By the summer, he
had appointed more than 100 lobbyists to jobs in
the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior
Department, the Federal Communications Commission and elsewhere. Their old clients didn’t
need much help from the new Trump guys on K
Street. They already knew exactly whom to call.
Perhaps that’s why the traditional lobbying
shops were doing just fine. As for protecting
clients from Trump’s Twitter howitzer — well,
that had turned out to be easier than it looked,
several lobbyists told me: Just show up in person,
promise the president you’ll create some jobs and
publicly give him the credit. ‘‘You make it about
Trump and you link it to jobs, and you could be
Russia or China and he will support you,’’ one
told me. ‘‘It is that unsophisticated.’’
Lewandowski’s office, when I finally got to
see it, turned out to be a cramped room with
scuffed yellow walls. His desk held a couple of
commemorative Trump pens and a warm can of
Monster energy drink. A new whiteboard, still in
its wrapping, leaned against one wall; a carry-on
suitcase leaned against another. I could see the
White House, but only if I leaned over his desk
and craned my neck.
‘‘There it is,’’ Lewandowski said, a little halfheartedly, pointing out the window. His day had not gotten off to a great start. That morning, Puerto Rico
had filed for a territorial version of bankruptcy. A
prominent watchdog group had sent a letter to
the Justice Department asking officials there to
investigate why Lewandowski had never registered
under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a World
War II-era law that imposes stringent disclosure
requirements on Americans representing foreign
governments in Washington. (Though Bennett and
other Avenue employees had registered as lobbyists, Lewandowski insisted that most of his business was advising clients on strategy, not setting up
meetings or contacting officials on their behalf, the
kind of work that requires you to register.) Politico
had struck again, revealing Avenue’s Citgo contract. Technically, the United States-based company was owned by the left-wing government of
Venezuela, whose vice president the Trump administration had accused of drug trafficking.
Lewandowski told me he didn’t work directly
for foreign governments, notwithstanding the stories and documents. Not that he wouldn’t be good
at it — you know, if he wanted to. ‘‘I don’t work
for foreign governments, but if I were a foreign
government, and I wanted to hire people who
understood how to get to the president, there are
a small number of people I would think of,’’ Lewandowski said. As he spoke, he seemed to recover
his familiar brio. ‘‘The establishment is so afraid
of President Trump they will do anything. Which
includes hiring individuals who have purported
to be tied to the White House who really aren’t.’’
The next day, Lewandowski announced he
was quitting Avenue. In a lengthy interview with
Bloomberg, he explained that Bennett and their
employees had been using his name to drum
up business he didn’t want, exposing him to
criticism and sullying his reputation. He insisted
he had never asked Trump for anything. ‘‘People
want to see me fail,’’ Lewandowski grumbled.
‘‘I feel bad for Corey,’’ Bennett told me when I
went to see him the following week. ‘‘He didn’t
do anything wrong. But he’s a lightning rod.’’ Bob
Dole, he pointed out, had just signed a $500,000
contract for work on behalf of the Democratic
Republic of Congo, a violence-racked country
run by a kleptocratic strongman. But no one in
Washington gave Bob Dole a hard time.
‘‘He thought he could go in’’ — into the White
House — ‘‘during the second wave,’’ Bennett said
of Lewandowski. K Street was just a way station
for him, Bennett suggested, while he waited for the
only job he truly wanted — the one he could picture when he gazed out his window, down Pennsylvania Avenue. ‘‘Looking back on it, he probably
should never have owned a chunk of a lobbying
firm. In the media’s mind, every client we had was
Corey’s client.’’ But even with Lewandowski gone,
Bennett said, there was plenty of work. ‘‘All of K
Street is doing well right now,’’ he said. ‘‘Chaos is
good for everyone’s business.’’
Lewandowski, I soon learned, hadn’t really
left the swamp. He had merely receded into
the nebulous ranks of Washington’s unregistered lobbyists. In July, he founded a new firm,
Lewandowski Strategic Advisors. He offered clients ‘‘strategic advice and counsel,’’ according
to a copy of one contract I obtained, and had
picked up at least one client from Avenue, the
Ohio payday lender. He was back on TV more
and more, energetically defending Trump and
plumping for various private interests. At one
point, I got a tip that he had been spotted in
Taipei, Taiwan. He wouldn’t tell me what he
was doing there, or for whom he was working
— ‘‘I’m just a private citizen,’’ he texted — but
weeks later, he tweeted about the Trump administration’s decision to approve a $1.42 billion
arms sale to the country. He hadn’t yet landed
that White House job, but he was in the West
Wing often, and he had a new Twitter avatar:
a picture of himself standing on the stairs to
Air Force One. Newt Gingrich’s publisher had
bought Lewandowski’s Trump book, and by the
end of the summer, he had added yet another
gig, joining Trump’s official super PAC, American First Action. Lewandowski had absorbed
the swamp’s most essential trait: adaptability.
Not long ago, Stryk opened a proper Washington office, right in Georgetown, a stone’s
throw from the Four Seasons. The new space
was undecorated and unmarked, and there
wasn’t much there yet but a couple of laptops.
But Stryk was buoyant. He was about to sign two
more big foreign lobbying clients, the governments of Afghanistan and Kenya, along with a
pharmaceutical firm. Saudi Arabia had canceled
its S.P.G. contract after Stryk’s client, the crown
prince, was deposed in a palace reshuffle, and
New Zealand’s foreign ministry had decided that
its embassy no longer needed Stryk’s services. But
in Stryk’s view, these were just hiccups. Competitors around town — big firms that had never given
him the time of day — were starting to ask around
about S.P.G., wondering who they were and how
they were getting so much business.
In about a month, Trump’s ham-handed defense
of white nationalists and white supremacists rallying in Charlottesville would prompt most of the
chief executives serving on White House advisory councils to quit in protest. It would cost the
chief executives something, losing their face time
with this impressionable, transactional president
— and their loss would be K Street’s gain. Those
same companies would now just rely more on
their lobbyists, or on the trade associations they
belonged to, to drive their agendas.
But as we sat down in his new conference
room, Stryk was already looking beyond the
Beltway. He saw Trump’s disruption spreading beyond Washington, to foreign capitals
and overseas markets. The chaos in Trump’s
government was creating a vacuum abroad,
one that entrepreneurs like Stryk could fill with
deal-making and private diplomacy. ‘‘I want to
grow a business that’s 200 million a year,’’ Stryk
told me. ‘‘You’re not going to get that arranging
dinners in Washington.’’
The new contracts with Afghanistan and
Kenya, Stryk explained, were prototypes for
the kind of business he wanted to do, an escape
from the washing machine. The Afghans and the
Kenyans didn’t just want help with the Trump
administration. They wanted help with everything: attracting American investment, troubleshooting problems in other foreign capitals,
finding companies that could build them roads
or manage their health care records.
So recently, Stryk had begun pitching investors on a new venture: a $5 billion private-equity
fund that would specialize in infrastructure and
procurement. One side of the business, the lobbying, would identify government customers
abroad; the other side would invest in companies that could deliver what those governments
needed. Secure voting systems, border-security
hardware — the opportunities were limitless. ‘‘It
is our job, as conservatives and capitalists, to take
the chaos and do with it what we can,’’ Stryk said.
‘‘Our goal is to take an environment that was created by the president and use it to —’’ He paused
for a second, thinking. ‘‘To do some good.’’
By Frank Longo
By Patrick Berry
By Thinh Van Duc Lai
Ten nine-letter words have had their letters in the odd
positions replaced by blanks. In each case the missing
letters spell a five-letter word reading from left to right,
such as DOSES inside DOORSTEPS (DOORSTEPS). Clues
for the five-letter and nine-letter words have been
mixed into a single list.
Add horizontal and vertical bars to the grid — each
one unit in length — in such a way that no two bars
touch. The numbers at the sides reveal how many bars
appear consecutively in their respective rows and
columns. Where two or more numbers are given, at
least one row or column must separate the two groups.
How many common words of 5 or more letters can
you spell using the letters in the hive? Every answer
must use the center letter at least once. Letters may
be reused in a word. At least one word will use all 7
letters. Proper names and hyphenated words are not
allowed. Score 1 point for each answer, and 3 points
for a word that uses all 7 letters.
1. __ A __ B __ R __ A __
Rating: 7 = good; 11 = excellent; 15 = genius
2. __ A __ L __ O __ E __
3. __ A __ V __ T __ O __
4. __ E __ P __ L __ E __
5. __ H __ S __ U __ U __
6. __ L __ N __ S __ O __
7. __ N __ O __ V __ N __
8. __ O __ L __ P __ E __
9. __ O __ T __ O __ E __
10. __ R __ G __ A __ C __
Bankrupt • Book of synonyms • Cerebellum’s place •
Copper • Deliverance from sin • Explanatory digressions • Falls apart • Killed • Light-headed?• One of
the five senses • Put on again, as makeup • Quickly
got larger • Signs of sorrow • Sophomores or juniors
• Swift • Tiny bit of land in the water • Typesetter’s
options • Uncivilized sort • Wham-O’s debut product
• “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” topic
Our list of words, worth 18 points, appears with last week’s answers.
S 3
23 N 24
By Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon
Guess the words defined below and
write them over their numbered
dashes. Then transfer each letter to
the correspondingly numbered square
in the pattern. Black squares indicate
word endings. The filled pattern will
contain a quotation reading from left
to right. The first letters of the guessed
words will form an acrostic giving the
author’s name and the title of the work.
I 6
U 7
47 A 48 S 49
28 J 29 G
46 X
65 H 66 U
86 J
A 5
I 25 Q 26 K 27 T
44 J 45 H
30 A
68 G 69 A 70
87 M 88 T
89 S 90 B 91
X 112 F
129 I 130 P 131 K 132 C
133 A 134 N 135 G
L 10
F 11
R 12
J 71
C 72 K 73
I 74 N 75 W
93 C 94 D
154 E 155 H 156 Q 157 N 158 K
15 136 121 87 168 39
B. Invalidated by taking back
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
90 160 139 40
C. Tarot figure wearing a starry crown
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
167 132
20 109 71
D. Result of a makeover (2 wds.)
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
146 18
35 123 94 165 62
E. Reasons for product markdowns
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
16 104 78 122
F. Give notice to, inform, tell
114 68 82 135
H. Divination book using hexagrams
(2 wds.)
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
155 45 118 65
I. What you have in the palm of your
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
24 129 91 105 73 149
J. Freedom of action or choice
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
152 28 115 44
137 86
K. Stuff considered arcane or secret
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
26 158 131
60 P 61
T 78 E 79 U
80 Q
97 120 58
164 V 165 D
166 R 167 C 168 M
T. Effectively opposed or baffled
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
157 74
163 77
O. De Niro’s opposite in “Analyze This”
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
P. Burning with intensity
140 43
V. Something for which people may
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
60 130 147
101 119 138 88
U. Moments of lucidity
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
83 128 148 38 107 50
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
21 162 81
Q. Shortcomings, drawbacks, flaws
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
13 143 156 98 127 80 25
R. Debased or grossly inferior
106 17
42 164 59 150 84
W. Executed perfectly
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
36 126 153 53 110
X. Film format or motel chain (2 wds.)
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
141 33 124 52 102
149 I 150 V
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
125 85 108 57
122 E 123 D 124 R 125 L 126 W 127 Q 128 O
48 34 89
32 100 10
104 E 105 I 106 V
____ ____ ____ ____ ____
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
112 144 54
P 82 G 83 O 84 V 85 L
S. Cousin of “shalom” and “ciao”
L. Put the brakes on
X 62 D 63 Q 64 B
142 L 143 Q 144 F 145 X 146 D 147 P 148 O
N. A remote locale, the boondocks
113 134 23
P 22 O
41 G 42 V 43 U
98 Q 99 H 100 F 101 T 102 R 103 B
M. Irresponsibly playful
95 116 133 69
20 C 21
59 V
159 X 160 B 161 U 162 P 163 T
L 58 K
140 U 141 R
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
V 18 D 19
56 E 57
117 U 118 H 119 T 120 K 121 M
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
E 17
38 O 39 M 40 B
95 A 96 U 97 K
136 M 137 J 138 T 139 B
35 D 36 W 37 Q
76 R 77
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
15 M
31 H 32 F 33 R 34 S
113 N 114 G 115 J 116 A
G. Enigmatic aura
T 13 Q 14 G
51 N 52 R 53 W 54 F 55 G
I 92 N
151 S 152 J 153 W
C 9
I 50 O
107 O 108 L 109 C 110 W
A. Site of mock naval battles
E 2
76 166
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
111 159 145 19
(Continued from Page 47)
the doctors were trying to drain a
blood clot. Baez crawled onto the
gurney next to her daughter, but she
remained unresponsive.
The two police officers standing
guard at the door to Jones’s room
tried to explain what happened.
Captains and representatives from
C.D.C.R. all tried to explain. But Baez
could only cry and hold her daughter’s hand. She never left Jones.
(A nurse had to force her to eat a
snack of orange juice and graham
crackers.) Later, she found out from
the intake administrator what had
happened on the ravine in Malibu.
The earth above Jones began giving way. At first it was just pebbles.
Then, the first chain saw shouted,
‘‘Rock.’’ But Jones couldn’t hear
over the noise of her machine. The
large stone fell suddenly, 100 feet
and, in an instant, struck her head.
She was knocked out on her feet.
A fire captain strapped her into a
stretcher, and a helicopter, there
to drop fire retardant, descended
to retrieve the limp body.
There are three ways to get to
Malibu 13 — from the Pacific Coast
Highway, from the circuitous back
roads northeast of Malibu or by
way of C.D.C.R. transport. When
new trainees arrive in a white bus,
they see no fences. They see off-duty
inmates wearing orange jumpsuits
half on, white T-shirts on top and
fire-rated boots laced loosely. They
see open-dorm barracks where they
will sleep with their crew, in a line,
as if they could roll out of bed and
fight fire within minutes of an alarm,
which they will do, sometimes multiple nights in a row. The crews are
always at work, even when they’re
not. They see visitors because
C.D.C.R. is proud of the program.
And when they look at the communal board on the L.A. County Fire
side of the camp, they see a dedicated plaque and several articles about
Jones’s death. Some people wrote
notes to Jones, now faded behind
plexiglass. The Malibu community
raised $4,000 for the ‘‘Shawna Lynn
Jones Fund.’’ On the C.D.C.R. side of
camp there is another memorial —
five tree stumps and a rain stick with
a carved message: ‘‘Like the wind,
felt but not seen, my sweet Shawna
may you R.I.P.’’
At a graduation last year of
inmate firefighters at the California
Institution for Women, near Chino,
where all female inmate firefighters
are trained, the mood was celebratory, almost exultant. One speaker
brought up Jones and asked, to
great applause, that her life and her
death not go in vain. He said, ‘‘She
gave her life for this program, and
L.A. County made sure she did not
leave without full dress.’’
When I visited Rainbow, I asked
a Cal Fire captain named Danny
Ramirez why the state wouldn’t
increase the incentive to join the
program by paying even a little
bit more. He didn’t have a ready
answer. Which brought up another puzzling aspect of the program:
Why doesn’t the state get more
out of its investment in training these women by hiring them
when they’re released? Or at the
very least, by creating a pathway
to employment? Ramirez said the
idea ‘‘to keep tags on the girls’’ had
come up before. ‘‘Some of these
girls leave very interested in what
they got exposed to and say, ‘Oh
I never knew this exists, how do I
keep on doing this?’ And it’s hard
when they get out there because
they do have a lot of the same walls
that they were facing before. But a
program to keep them guided and
keep them on that path and keep
them focused on something instead
of getting back into their old ways
or old friends would be awesome.’’
Jones’s body was driven from the
coroner’s department to Eternal
Valley Memorial Park and Mortuary, located between Lancaster and
Los Angeles. A fire company crew
was on every overpass, standing on
their trucks, saluting in full uniform
as Jones’s body was driven underneath. Outside her funeral, rows of
sheriffs and deputies stood at attention, right hands at their brows.
Two fire trucks were parked at the
entrance with their ladders raised,
crossed in tribute to her. Shawna
Lynn Jones lived as an inmate and
died an honored firefighter. Baez
received a customary American
flag, folded into a tight triangle.
Someone told her, she says, that in
Shawna’s four months as a firefighter, she made about $1,000. The New York Times Magazine
Puzzles Edited by Will Shortz
1 Mayhem
9 Bowfishing need
14 Happy event after
a split?
19 Really happening
21 “Don Juan” girl
22 Prince of ____
23 *Law enforcer with
the Coast Guard
25 “____ we lucky?”
26 Nat ____ Wild (cable
27 More decisive
28 Place for stars
30 Buffet heater
33 *It passes on some
bits of information
37 What the last
letter of 107-Down
stands for
38 Very puzzled
40 Record collection?
41 Constellation next
to Corona Australis
42 ____ Jahan, leader
who commissioned
the Taj Mahal
43 ____ Jorge (part of
the Azores)
44 Little sucker?
48 *Philosopher who
wrote, “Out of the
crooked timber
of humanity, no
straight thing was
ever made”
53 “Works for me”
By Andrew Zhou
54 Company known
for combining
55 Presidents Taft,
Ford, Clinton and
both Bushes
59 Remain
60 What the Tower
of London was for
over 850 years
63 Adhere (to)
64 Utter, as a sound
65 One put in bed?
66 *Celebrities
working for the
U.N., perhaps
71 Disposition
72 International
fusion restaurant
73 Hall-of-Fame Bruin
74 Tater
75 Common Korean
76 Low-quality bank
offerings whose
acronym suggests
79 A little teary
83 Peevish
85 *Certain photo
88 Island nation that
was once part of
the Spanish East
89 TV’s NBA on ____
name to a state
puttering around?
93 Tow truck
96 You might pass
one in a race
98 Onetime Yankee
99 *Business bigwigs
103 Seep through
105 Like a bogey
106 Tie up quickly?
108 Cleveland athlete,
109 Educator
110 Sex appeal …
or a hint to the
answers to the six
starred clues
117 Main force
118 Bring to a full
119 Bratty
120 Big instrument in
electronic music,
121 Pillow covers
122 Washington
newsmaker of 1980
1 Start to call
2 U.N. workers’ grp.
3 Handle in the
7 Very long spans
8 In a mischievous
14 Crystal jewelry
company with a
swan in its logo
15 Some patterned
4 Solar system model 10 Big seller of
16 Fox Islands dweller
Puzzles Online: Today’s puzzle and more
5 Home-testing-kit
17 ____ Elise
11 Ocasek of the Cars
than 9,000 past puzzles,
($39.95 a year). For the daily puzzle commentary:
12 Call with a charge?
6 Early seventh37-Across winner
century year
13 Geniality
for “Hamilton”
18 Poly- follower
20 TV producer
24 Cheese often
served with olives
Fill the grid with digits so as not to repeat a digit in any row or column, and so that the digits within each
29 Hebrew name
heavily outlined box will produce the target number shown, by using addition, subtraction, multiplication
meaning 62-Down
or division, as indicated in the box. A 5x5 grid will use the digits 1–5. A 7x7 grid will use 1–7.
30 Unadventurous
31 Crooner with the
autobiography “It
Wasn’t All Velvet”
32 U.S.S. Missouri’s
resting site
34 Person who’s
35 Publisher of
the magazine
America’s 1st
Freedom, for short
36 Prefix with system
39 ____ Bo (workout
42 Golf’s Slammin’
45 It helps keep
things straight
KenKen® is a registered trademark of Nextoy, LLC. © 2017 All rights reserved.
91 Tribe that gave its
92 Grp. of people
46 First sign of spring 80 Do make-up work?
81 Plants with bell47 Wacky tobacky, in
shaped blooms
49 Lingo
50 One-third of a
82 Pokémon card
B-52 cocktail
51 “____ iacta est”
(“The die is cast”)
52 First phase
53 Draft status?
56 Mastered, Britishstyle
57 Conversation
58 “____ me?”
61 Take responsibility
for something
62 Safari sighting
65 Site of biblical
66 Davis of “Thelma
& Louise”
67 Heat center of old?
68 War on Poverty
69 Things displayed
by mannequins
70 “The Lady of the
Camellias” author,
71 Dot on a screen
76 One suffering from
numbness, maybe
77 Unit of petrol
78 Browning vessels
84 Penn State symbol
86 Old Pontiac
87 Western city
bisected by I-80
89 B’way buy
90 Eleanor Roosevelt
____ Roosevelt
94 Soviet ____
95 Diamond figures
96 Ten or twenty
97 Little bits
98 Big-bang creator
99 Rooster displays
100 Gynecologist’s
101 Many a late-night
cable show
102 Bounds
104 Word with crime
or bar
107 Acronym for an
awards sweep
111 Plays performed in
shozoku robes
112 Hoppy quaff, briefly
113 Closemouthed
114 Utmost
115 One in 100: Abbr.
116 O.R. figures
© 2017 Design Within Reach, Inc.
Nathan Yong
Designer of the Line Collection
Bozoma Saint
John Wants
To Humanize
Interview by Ana Marie Cox
In June, you were hired as chief brand
officer for Uber, a job you took after
months of controversy over legal, workplace and personnel issues at the company. You’ve said you want to ‘‘humanize’’ Uber. Do you think that brands can
have human characteristics? I do think
brands are like people. The product does
not exist without an emotion connected
to it. You’ve birthed life into a product
and created a personality. You can look
at any industry and say: ‘‘Why this sneaker
over that sneaker? Why this soda over that
one?’’ That’s what brands are — they’re
living, breathing things that are sometimes very happy, sometimes sad, sometimes angry. It’s our job as marketers and
brand professionals to nurture the brand
and calm it down when it’s angry and to
encourage when it’s trying to grow.
I have to say: As a Gen Xer, I mistrust
brands. Brands mean different things
for different generations. When I was
growing up, the brands that were most
powerful were people brands, like
Michael Jackson or Madonna. They stood
for something that, perhaps, wasn’t wholly who they were, which then became
an image that they sold. That’s still a
brand to me.
You’ve talked a lot about the importance of Uber’s reputation, which stems
from reports of a notoriously bad corporate culture. Can you improve the
reputation of Uber without changing
the culture? I’m a woman, I’m black,
I am passionate, I am transparent. The
culture changes simply by being, right?
It’s like any other thing where you change
one molecule and the matter changes.
Age: 40
Marketing executive
Saint John is the
chief brand officer
for Uber.
Accra, Ghana
Photograph by Jessica Chou
Her Top 5
‘‘People Brands’’:
1. Michael Jordan
2. Kim Kardashian
3. Olivier Rousteing
4. Diddy
5. Oprah Winfrey
In the past, Uber has famously rejected the idea that metrics are a good
way of measuring diversity. Do you
think that those evaluations are a
good tool for showing commitment
to social progress? Yeah, I do. It keeps
us in check. You can look at the numbers and make sure that we are wholly
represented and that people are feeling
satisfied at their jobs.
The brands you’ve managed in the past
— Apple, Beats and Pepsi — were all
pretty beloved already. Will it be a new
challenge for you to work with a brand
that is in crisis? I’m pretty confident
in my abilities, and I don’t know that
there is a utopia for any of us, in any of
our companies. But I don’t see a difference between the evolution of where
the music industry was going and how
to evolve people’s listening habits and,
now, how to evolve people’s feelings
around ride sharing and Uber.
What about Uber in particular is worth
saving? It is so innovative and has such
a bright future in terms of disrupting
what has been a very old and antiquated
system of transportation. It’s also about
the thousands of people who work so
tirelessly every day for the company.
They’ve been working hard for a number of years to bring a product to life.
Why shouldn’t we save it?
Well, some might argue that the rise
of ride sharing and the gig economy is
hollowing out long-term employment.
Do you think Uber has a role in helping
to maintain some kind of social safety net that used to be filled by people
having single long-term employment?
I don’t think that you can look back even
200 years and say that we have the same
economy or the same society as we did
then. Part of our human nature is finding new ways of being. I’m not so afraid
of the future in that way, in that somehow we’re all going to be phased out
— I think that there’s going to be new
ways for us to work and interact with
each other and create an economy that
is sustainable.
You made a splash in the tech world
when you became the first black woman
to be onstage at the Apple Developers’
Conference in 2016; you previewed
iTunes’ lyrics feature by trying to start
a singalong to ‘‘Rapper’s Delight.’’ If I
had gone with Coldplay, that wouldn’t
have been very much me, you know?
Interview has been condensed and edited.
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