Monthly Archives: February 2015

Racked Relaunch

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Racked relaunches today with the complete Vox Media Makeover Look™: new site design, new logo, new glow. This makeover was a sprint compared to the Eater revamp: 10 weeks from kickoff to launch, but a resulting design that’s the lightest, most beautiful site in the Vox stable, as befits our next-generation fashion and shopping brand. Bravo to Eliot Shepard, who oversaw the product side of the launch, and all the folks at Vox Product that made this magic happen.

Editor-in-Chief Leslie Price has been part of Racked’s DNA since the brand was born in March 2007, serving as the launch editor of Eater NY, then later as editor of Eater LA before returning to the mothership to oversee Racked’s transformation into its new, better self. Leslie’s welcome letter lays out her vision for the site, one replete with a mix of video, feature, and op-ed content, and of course the news and sales reports that have defined Racked over the years.

Among the Racked relaunch highlights:

1) Try Hards, Vox Media’s first scripted video show, features Danielle Gibson and Alexandra Fiber, the team behind SRSLY, navigating absurd fashion trends in the guise of Racked editors. New episodes will drop each Tuesday at 10am.
2) Also on Racked’s expanded video slate: a partnership with with seminal fashion magazine Dazed, directed by photographer Columbine Goldsmith, the first in a series of videos Racked will produce in collaboration with other style-focused editorial outlets and brands; Racked Hauls, obsessive weekly shopping, ever Monday at noon; and the addition of Lo Bosworth of The Hills fame as Racked’s new health and wellness editor, who will helm a video series testing the workouts of the moment.
3) Racked’s launch cover story, Fashion Gateway Drugs, in which 36 of Racked’s favorite stylish people to talk about the moment they first fell in love with fashion. It features contributions ranging from Iris Apfel to Drew Barrymore.
4) And, just trust me on this — follow @RackedShopping on Instagram. It’s the start of a more shoppable Racked. Which is going to be insane.

As is this whole undertaking, as WWD reporter Alexandra Steigrad makes clear in this deep dive on the Racked relaunch which appears in today’s issue. (We ended up talking about ethics, which in a world as challenged as the fashion media, is actually a really big deal.) Bottom line, Team Racked is on it, and the new site finally gives them the tools they need to go crazy. Couldn’t happen to a more awesome team.

Monday’s List, Vox Media Edition

Been a little while since a Monday’s List, so let’s fire it back up. Apologies for the work-centric nature of this week’s list, but work is very much the theme of the week. Check back next Monday for smack talk unrelated to Vox Media and the fine people who work here.

OBAMA: THE VOX CONVERSATION
In which Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias of Vox.com sit down with the sitting president of the United States, becoming the first pure digital news source to do so. The transcripts are fascinating because the conversation’s conducted at a very high level (NB Obama’s hilarious burn on Vox: “brainiac nerd types”), but the approach the Vox.com team took to the videos of the interview are where the real ground is broken. Check the transformation of the White House Maps room undertaken by the Vox team — a transformation that made possible the graphical wizardry unleashed in the clip above.

BILL GATES GUEST-EDITING THE VERGE IN FEBRUARY
Meanwhile, at The Verge, Bill Gates is guest-editing the site for the month of February. What does that mean in practice? Nilay Patel explains: “Throughout February, Bill will be narrating episodes of our animated series The Big Future to explain and illustrate his vision… Gates is our guest editor, but we have promised his team that we’ll do serious independent journalism against these themes; we will present a complete picture of this future to you.” The first video, above, ran last week; the next one drops momentarily.

THIRD GIANT SECRET THING
Obama and Gates is a whole lot for the first nine days of the month, but the 10th day of the month is bringing something equally momentous on another Vox Media site. Check back tomorrow for this annoying teaser to be FULLY REVEALED.

ALTON BROWN Q&A
The Food Network maestro dropped by Eater last week for a live chat with Eater readers in the Eater Forum. Hilarity transpired, as did some real cooking advice. Looking forward to seeing more of these interactive conversations at Eater and elsewhere at Vox Media.

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CITY ISLAND <3 CURBED
Every December, Curbed NY awards the Curbed Cup to the Neighborhood of the Year in New York City. This year, after a frenzied reader vote, the Bronx enclave of City Island took the cup. That’s all well and good, but where things really got fun was when the local media got all excited about the victory, and Curbed’s own Hana Alberts and Sara Polsky were invited out to a local bar this past weekend to celebrate with the locals. I couldn’t make the voyage, but there’s talk of a return visit this summer, which, rest assured, I will not miss.

JOBS AT VOX MEDIA
Finally, we’re hiring up an absolute storm right now across editorial, product, sales, and corporate. Be the dream. Join us.

A Weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana

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As we get older, traditions become more important. They are especially important when traditions are of the guys’ weekend variety. Example: We must all leave New York City and go somewhere fun for Super Bowl Weekend because we have always left New York City and gone somewhere fun for Super Bowl Weekend.

In fact, this year’s getaway was Super Bowl Weekend V, and really technically just Super Bowl Weekend IV because last year we substituted my bachelor party on the weekend previous to the big game. No matter. This year, for the first time together, the Hotline Crew would take New Orleans, a city where one of us went to law school, two of us have visited frequently, and two members of our crew — krewe? — had never set foot. Oh, and for the first time since the extremely ill-fated Super Bowl Weekend III, the Patriots would challenge for football’s world championship before the weekend was over.

My last visit to New Orleans came during Jazzfest in 2010 — a time before Airbnb, or at least before I’d ever heard of Airbnb. This time, it was the obvious choice, and we ended up in the three-story townhouse in the Lower Garden District seen above. Tremendous spot…

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… and not just because the house was directly next door to the establishment Tacos and Beer, where the group of early arrivals enjoyed pre-dinner on Friday night. This patio would swell with Seahawks fans on Super Bowl Sunday, their cheers driving into my skull like rusty nails, but until then, hey — Tacos and Beer.

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Restaurant report: all Donald Link all the time. We took Friday night dinner at Cochon, complete with fried oysters even larger than I remembered them. The vibe at Cochon is great, and though the food on this visit didn’t blow me away, hard to think of a better place to start a weekend of epic consumption.

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After a late Friday and a lazy start to Saturday, lunch came in the form of a 20-sandwich platter pickup from Cochon’s next-door spinoff, Cochon Butcher. I am on record stating that their may be no finer establishment in the United States of America than Cochon Butcher, an opinion arrived at after lunching there back in 2010 and confirmed after this trip. They’ve more than doubled the size of the room, making it a much easier place to sit and lunch, and the menu’s grown as well [PDF], though we didn’t venture outside sandwiches on this trip despite MOP’s plea that the boudin is terrific. (Next time.) The Cochon Muffaletta, the cold roast beef, and a pressed-pork creation all absolutely killed it, along with sides of Brussels sprouts and potato salad.

The one glaring omission from our sandwich binge: the Blackboard Bacon Melt, which Eater’s Bill Addison recently declared the finest sandwich in the country. (Addison: “A genius construction of thick, crisp-soft cured pork layered with stewed collard greens, pepper aioli, and Swiss cheese on buttery toast. I crave it more than any other sandwich in America.”) Didn’t realize we’d missed it until Bill commented on my Instagram of the platter. Fuck.

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After an afternoon wandering the French Quarter, getting our two Nola virgins up to speed on Cafe du Monde, then grabbing Buds at old favorite the Chart House, dinner went down at Peche, another Donald Link restaurant and one new to the city since my last visit. Last year, the James Beard Foundation handed its award for the best new restaurant in America to this place, which seemed as good a reason as any to try it.

The space — like Cochon, it’s in the old warehouse district — is airy and cool, and the vibe, like Cochon, active and fun. We went with a bunch of shared starters (the shrimp toast, though boring in name, is absolutely sublime) before splitting a large whole redfish sauced in salsa verde. Excellent. Would eat again.

After dinner, the crowd outside swelled for the Krewe de Vieux parade, one of the first in the season leading into Mardi Gras. Now, for various and uncertain reasons, we somehow managed to miss the parade, but we made it into the official afterparty, which: insanity. Next year we do it right and costume it up.

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Super Bowl Sunday dawned warm and wet across the Bayou, and I walked around the corner from our rental to find the Cajun Boy and his renowned dog Sazerac. Cajun took me to this perfect hipster coffee spot, then toured me his house and neighborhood. The plan was to watch the game at a bar right by there, but fate had other ideas, and we ended up watching the game at our townhouse. It was a good game.

Monday dawned with several housemates having made a pre-dawn run to the airport. I followed in mid-morning to find flight into LGA already delayed two hours. Simple sleuthing made it clear that, with weather conditions deteriorating in New York, a flight out that afternoon wasn’t going to happen. When the departure time got pushed back to 6pm, I switched my flight to a Tuesday AM departure and headed back into the city.

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Where, over a late lunch at Cochon Butcher, I finally ate the Blackboard Bacon Melt. Worth the whole trip. (Dined solo on Monday night at Sylvain in the French Quarter, which I’d also highly recommend. Good food but an alleyway-entrance vibe that entranced me. Like a divier version of McCrady’s in Charleston.)

Thanks, New Orleans, and thanks, New England Patriots. Les bon temps rouler.

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Super Bowl XLIX

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For posterity, having recovered from spending Super Bowl Weekend in New Orleans, my assorted thoughts and observations on the New England Patriots 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

1) The memories from the nights when your team wins or loses it all tend to be blurry, sometimes because of beer, sometimes because of the moment. Sometimes both. Definitely both this past Sunday as the fourth quarter got underway and it felt like the Patriots were on the verge of getting blown out — right before the game took its third major swing and the Patriots powered back to win. From the start of the quarter to the goal-line with a minute to go, my lasting memory wasn’t the Edelman concussion play (though it was incredible) but the completion to a streaking Gronkowski across the middle for a 20-yard gain with 4:46 to go, which found me running into the adjacent bedroom, towards the kitchen, screaming and pumping my fist. That was the moment I felt sure the Patriots were going to win this game after all.

2) And yet. My realtime watch of the final minute of the game will never be reconstructed accurately. An attempt: I was standing behind a chair (?) as the clock dropped below the 1:00 mark and kept running; Jesse, somewhere to my front and right (?), screaming for Belichick to take the timeout. I can’t claim the clarity that I knew this to be Belichick’s finest moment, a belief which would by Wednesday pass into Patriots fan collective lore — but I also wasn’t screaming. I felt a certain peace, knowing that it would either happen or not happen, and all really fast. Then Wilson threw the screen pass across the middle that Malcolm Butler stepped up and picked off, my friends (all Giants fans and veterans of our horrid 2011 weekend) started congratulating me, and Jesse lost his mind over Pete Carroll’s call while I passed out (?).

3) Speaking of that Giants win in 2011, and that Giants win in 2008 — there’s something about the way sports plays out over time that’s not unlike how history itself can’t be written in the present. The bicycle catch by Kearse could have been the third in an unholy trinity. (In the moment, I tweeted this.) Instead, the way the game played out made both Giants catches fade into the distance, painful memories, sure, but all part of the path to the redemption of this past Sunday. I discovered this emotion as a Red Sox fan but never realized I’d feel it as a Patriots fan. I’m being straight up obnoxious about this because that’s really the whole reason to be a sports fan anyway.

4) When looking for the heroes of the Patriots offseason, my mind wanders back to January 10, the Divisional game between the Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. Early in the third quarter, when Baltimore had gone up by two touchtowns, I tweeted, “Very quiet at Rock Shop.” In patented reverse-jinx fashion, Boston scourge Mark Lisanti tweeted back at me:

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All of which is why I’m convinced this exchange won the Patriots the Super Bowl. Mark, your gift is on its way.

5) Speaking of Grantland, a shoutout to Bill Barnwell, who produces the deepest read on every NFL game every week seemingly minutes after the games end. The fact that this Super Bowl opus was online by the time I awoke on Monday is nothing short of miraculous.

6) Finally, the end of the Super Bowl settled the bet mentioned on this blog back in the fall. $100 to Harryh; kudos, sir, even though thanks to you, we’re still stuck with Goodell.

As ever, onwards. Go Pats. Is it Truck Day yet?