Tag: culture

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Spotify

Whether you’re a new user of the music-streaming service or a playlist pro, these tips will improve your next listening session.

Apple’s music-streaming service reportedly has more paying subscribers in the US now than Spotify does, but there’s no doubt that Spotify is still the global leader in streaming music—and Spotify has been a multiplatform service since it first launched in 2008. Which is why it’s unforgivable that Spotify’s user experience can be so confusing. Finding a specific album or playlist or mood on Spotify is about as enjoyable as doing taxes: The reward can be sweet, but the journey is onerous.



This is a guide to using Spotify. It will help you maximize the benefit of that monthly subscription fee (assuming you’ve gone ad-free), so you won’t feel, like one of my WIRED colleagues, that you’re only taking advantage of 5 percent of the features of the app. Even if you’ve been using Spotify since day one, there might be something in here that will become your new favorite streaming feature.

Note: Some, but not all, of the features described here are only available to Spotify subscribers.

How to Find Songs, Albums, and Playlists
This part is pretty simple. When you open the Spotify mobile app, you’ll see three tabs at the bottom: Home, Search, and Your Library. Tapping on Search lets you search for artists, songs, or podcast titles. You can specify which of those categories you’re looking for when you punch in your initial query, but Spotify does a lot of the sorting for you. For example, if you type in “Dirty Computer,” which is both the name of an album and a song on the album, the album will pop up first.
If you’re not searching for something in particular, you don’t need to enter a specific search term. Just tap on Search and select from a variety of different categories and subcategories representing your top four genres. If you scroll down to Browse All, you can find playlists determined by mood (“All the Feels”), occasion (“Workout”), even TV show and movie soundtracks (Bohemian Rhapsody). If you’re looking for playlists you’ve carefully crafted or saved, you’ll want to navigate out of Search and go to the Your Library tab on the bottom right.

What’s “Your Library”?
Good question! Your Library is everything you’ve saved on Spotify—your playlists, the streaming radio stations you’ve followed, the songs you’ve downloaded, and the artists and albums that comprise your saved stuff. It’s also another avenue into songs you’ve recently played, though these will appear near the bottom of the mobile page as smallish album thumbnails. (Under the Home tab, recently played albums appear right at the top, and they’re hard to miss.)
There is a very important distinction, though, between your saved items and downloaded items. Saved means that you’ve earmarked it so that it appears in Your Library, thereby making it easy to find later on. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your songs have been downloaded and can be played offline. For more on downloading content, see “Make Offline Listening Your Friend” (below).

Work Playlists Like a Pro
Playlists are by far the most appealing part of using Spotify. The company pumps out dozens of genre- or mood-specific playlists. They’re both human- and algorithmically generated, and their influence over the music industry has evolved to the point where being included on a popular Spotify playlist can make or break an artist’s career. Users spend around half their time on Spotify listening to either the curated playlists or ones of their own creation. But at the same time, playlists can be the most frustrating part of the Spotify experience.
Making your own playlist is straightforward: On the mobile app, go to Your Library, then Playlists, and then tap on the giant green Create Playlist tab. Once you have a playlist titled and created, you can tap on any individual song or album, look for the ellipses on the right, and quickly add that content to an existing playlist. This experience is similar on a PC; the New Playlist button lives on the bottom left-hand side of the desktop app. Likewise, adding a preexisting playlist to your favorites is dead simple: Find a playlist, hit Follow, and it will then be accessible via Playlists in Your Library.

Other playlist features aren’t so simple. For example, you can stack album after album in a playlist, but you can’t do that from within the playlist itself, where Spotify will encourage you to search for individual songs. Instead, you’ll have to search for the album you want to add, then tap on the “more options” ellipses in the upper right-hand corner, and choose to add to a playlist from there.
You can also make playlists collaborative so you and your friends can all add songs, but this is at least a two-step process. On the playlist you want to invite your friends to join, first go into the options—tap that ellipsis—and choose to make it collaborative (which is somehow different from making it public). Then, open the options menu a second time, tap Share, and share the playlist with anyone you’d like. When I shared a playlist with a WIRED colleague, he had to save the playlist to his own library first, and only then could he start adding stuff—so that’s good advice to pass along to the friends you’re inviting. Also, on mobile it’s not obvious who’s contributing to a collaborative playlist; the desktop Spotify app will show you who added which songs.

Make Offline Listening Your Friend
Spotify makes it easy for you to download any song in its massive library to your phone. That way, you can listen to music even without a data or Wi-Fi connection.
Remember when I mentioned earlier that saving something to your library is different from downloading your content? More times than I care to admit, I’ve saved songs but failed to take advantage of Spotify’s offline listening before boarding a long flight or embarking on a remote road trip. The crucial difference is that when you save something, it bookmarks it but leaves it in the cloud. You won’t be able to listen to anything that’s saved when you go offline. This is the part where you can learn from my mistakes: Download your favorite playlists now. Right now. Go do it.
Go to a playlist, look for the Download option right at the top of the playlist (you really cannot miss this), and tap the toggle. That’s it. You’re done. A green downward arrow icon will appear next to any playlist that’s available for offline listening. If you want the option to download playlists when you’re not connected to a stable Wi-Fi connection, even though that will eat up a portion of your monthly cellular data, go to Settings, then Music Quality, and navigate to Download. Opt into Download Using Cellular (it should be the last option on the page on mobile), and you’re ready to scramble to download a playlist with two bars of service just before takeoff.

Downloading works for nearly anything on Spotify—not just playlists, but also albums, podcasts, and individual songs.

Up the Streaming Quality—or Turn It Down
Speaking of music quality, you can adjust the bitrate of your audio streams within Settings as well. You can also fine-tune things like volume level or the treble and bass, although these options are within the Playback tab in settings, not under Music Quality.

The options for audio quality range from 24 kilobits per second up to 320 kbps. A normal rate is considered 96 kbps, and that level of quality doesn’t sound fantastic. If you’re dissatisfied with Spotify’s audio quality, bump this setting up until it sounds good to you.
If sound quality isn’t that important to you, and streaming at a high bitrate just isn’t an option because of your concerns about cellular data usage, then you can instead opt into something in Settings called Data Saver. Spotify just introduced this last summer, and it streams your music at the low end, 24 kbps, when the only option is streaming over cellular. Once you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, your audio quality will be bumped up to a normal level again.

How to Let Everybody Know You’re Going Through a Breakup
If you’ve never dug into Spotify’s social settings, then you might be horrified to learn that Spotify sets your music listening habits to public by default. And, while the service offers a Private Session option, that defaults back to public listening after you’ve been inactive for six hours.
Unfortunately, while there are some options for keeping certain activities private, there aren’t any options for blocking people from viewing your profile. This is a serious fail on Spotify’s part at a time when privacy concerns are at the forefront of every conversation about popular tech services, and when people are literally being harassed on its platform. There are some ways to work around it, though. The first and absolutely least user-friendly approach is to turn on Private Session every single time you open the app. The second is to create “secret” playlists, and only listen to those—just know that any public playlists you’ve created or joined will still be visible unless you go in and change the playlists’ privacy settings.
The third option is to refuse to use Spotify entirely, which we won’t blame you for. There are other streaming music options, even if they don’t all offer a free tier.

Let Spotify Do the Work for You

Assuming you’re still hooked on Spotify, you’ll want to take advantage of the playlists that Spotify assembles specifically for you, which can offer a more robust experience than putting together playlists yourself. The very top entry within Your Library is a section called Made for You, which includes a weekly playlist, a roundup of new releases Spotify thinks you should have on your radar, and a series of daily mixes that are heavily influenced by the stuff you’ve already been listening to. An annual playlist that highlights the top songs you listened to during the calendar year could serve as a pleasant trip down memory lane, the audio equivalent of “one year ago” apps—or a reminder to book your next therapy appointment. Still, these algorithmically created Spotify playlists are a great way to veer just slightly out of your comfort zone and expand your music listening. And isn’t that the point of paying $10 a month for a music service—not just to move to the sound of your own familiar drum but to discover a new kind of beat?

What Do You Do When You Smoke Weed?

Right now, weed exists in an in-between state. It’s not quite legal, but it’s not quite illegal either. It’s accepted, but not totally normalized. It’s not quite medicine and it’s not quite a beer and it’s not quite green juice, either. Whether the police treat it as a big deal or not depends on who you are and where you live.

It’s all in flux, so it’s tricky to know the right way to talk about it — but that’s also why, on this week’s show, we wanted to try. We started with a very basic question. What do you do when you get high?

Molly: Do you like to go out into the world high or do you primarily like to be at home?

Allison: Be at home. Surrounded by all my comforts.

Molly: Are there comforts that are particularly beloved to you while you are high?

Allison: Yeah, I like my pillows. Sometimes I’ll just bring all the pillows from my bed and lie on them in the living room.

Molly: Like a little nest.

Allison: Like a little nest. I can’t eat like crunchy stuff when I’m high, because I might get dry mouth. So it’s like ice cream — or, honestly, Swiss Miss pudding is the best thing to eat while high.

Molly: A nice wet sweet.

We heard from Jia Tolentino, Aminatou Sow, Ben Sinclair, and Katja Blichfeld of High Maintenance — and a lot of our listeners. A few of the things they like to do:

  • Watch romantic comedies
  • Do some personal finance work
  • Go to the grocery store
  • Go to hot yoga
  • Go running
  • Marie Kondo the house
  • Line up all my bottles and do my skin-care routine
  • Get deep and dirty with ingrown pubic hairs
  • Masturbate
  • Make art projects
  • Hang out with my 2-year-old
  • Go to the zoo
  • Do gymnastics

Click here to listen to this week’s episode, and subscribe wherever you listen.

Gumbo, the Classic New Orleans Dish, Is Dead. Long Live Gumbo.

Rich in flavor and history, the dish is no longer a fixture of local restaurants. Some chefs see that as a chance to reinvent it.

NEW ORLEANS — Decades ago, soon after moving to this city from India, Arvinder Vilkhu began telling his wife and children, “If we ever have a restaurant, we must have a curried gumbo.”

Mr. Vilkhu had tasted his first gumbo in 1984 during a job interview at a New Orleans hotel. “I was so much in love,” he said of the rich dish, something between a soup and a stew. He began developing his own distinctive version after immigrating here later that year.

But it wasn’t until 2017, when the family opened their Indian restaurant, Saffron Nola, on a restaurant-dense stretch of this city’s Uptown neighborhood, that he began serving his gumbo, bright with ginger, turmeric and cilantro. 

“New Orleans wasn’t ready for Indian gumbo,” said Mr. Vilkhu’s son, Ashwin, the restaurant’s general manager. “It is now.” This is an extraordinary time for the city’s signature dish. Gumbo, long a fixture in restaurants here, has disappeared from many menus as new chefs arrive with different cuisines and ideas, catering to a population remade by the transplants who settled in the city after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005.

But the chefs who have stuck by the dish are using the moment to stretch its boundaries by adding ingredients that defy tradition, bringing it fresh relevance. Many of the innovations reflect global influences on New Orleans cooking, particularly from South and Southeast Asia. This time of year, with the cooler weather and the start of the Mardi Gras season, may be the best time to sample them — and to appreciate gumbo’s long and continuing evolution.

Michael Gulotta, a New Orleans native, has resumed cooking the seasonal seafood gumbo he introduced as a lunch special last year at Maypop, his modern restaurant in the Warehouse district. It’s seasoned with lime leaf, fermented black beans and black cardamom, in homage to the Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants that have long flourished on the city’s outskirts.

“I served that gumbo all last winter,” Mr. Gulotta said. “People went crazy for it.”

Gumbo has existed in various forms across south Louisiana for centuries. It can contain any number of ingredients, depending on the chef and the season. But until recently it was rare to find gumbo that incorporated ingredients beyond a fixed list of proteins (fowl, sausage, local shellfish), aromatics (onion, bell pepper, celery — known locally as the holy trinity) and spices (cayenne, thyme, white pepper). Gumbo’s flavor is further influenced by roux, the blend of fat and flour used to thicken the broth. It’s a French technique adopted by Louisianians, who often cook the roux so long that it darkens and takes on bitter notes reminiscent of Mexican mole. Sliced okra and the sassafras powder known as filé, a Native American contribution to Louisiana cooking, are also used as gumbo thickeners, either in combination or in place of roux.
READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/dining/gumbo-recipes-new-orleans.html

Thanks to Netflix, ‘YOU,’ a Show From 2018, Is 2019’s First Hit

In 2018, YOU was one of the most slept on—and most fun—shows of the year. It premiered in September, on a regular degular cable channel, Lifetime, and the season one finale aired a staggering nine weeks later in mid-November, a release and rollout straight out of 2011. One short week into 2019, though, anyone who wasn’t privy before would be forgiven to think YOU is a brand-new Netflix original that dropped over the holidays somewhere in between Bird Box and Bandersnatch. If a series airs anywhere outside of the Big Five (HBO, AMC, FX, Showtime and, um, NBC?) does it even truly exist until Netflix? Apparently not.

A series taking on a new and ultimately more fulfilling life after hitting home video is hardly a new concept. Newer shows drifting unnoticed at large until they hit a common denominator streaming service is how most of them gain legs in this post-apocalyptic TV dystopia we’re living in, and as for classic shows that a new generation is warming to, well, did you hear Netflix almost lost Friends?!

Still, it’s curious to watch a majority of my timeline react to YOU not as if they’re just discovering it, but like it didn’t exist until now, with the common descriptor being “that new Netflix show” (not unlike Black Mirror’s Channel 4 to Netflix path before it.) Granted, some of the confusion probably stems from the fact that You is a Netflix show now. A second season was initially renewed by Lifetime before being dropped and then picked up by Netflix, where it was already an original internationally to begin with. This is a good thing, mostly. For one, the show’s pulpy and propulsive narrative is built for binging, (this coming from a guy who sticks to a two-three episode per sitting restraint—anything more just becomes narrative soup and impossible to distinguish episodically in my opinion but that’s my idiosyncrasy to bear). Amidst the trappings of an airport potboiler, YOU cleverly weaponizes expectations, casting proto-internet boyfriend Dan Humphrey as Joe, a toxic lecherous creep who preys on a cast of narcissists so loathsome no one is really “good.” The show’s whole aesthetic is being self-awarely over-the-top and soapy, but it’s that self-awareness that also makes room for sharp dialog and moments so in on the joke that they’re hilarious to laugh both with and at (Joe’s tweets as a rich bro he’s kidnapped, for one). The commentary on contemporary social media and the way it has informed our personas is actually incisive; Peach Salinger is the MVP of course but everything about, say, Beck’s influencer friend Anikka, is remarkably dead-on. We all know a few Becks who curate a more fulfilled life on IG, as well as entitled, monied douches who harp about bullshit like artisanal soda. What’s more, in some fleeting moments, it’s actually deceptively sweet. On the surface, the turns Beck and Joe’s relationship take in episodes seven through nine would actually provide the spine for a very solid rom-com if those turns weren’t, you know, borne out of deception, manipulation and murder. Part of the genius of the show is the way it doesn’t shortchange building these two into an actual relationship (or at least, explaining how and why Beck could be so blinded) in service of all the murder, frame-jobs and ridiculous book cages.

Brown Point Shoes Arrive, 200 Years After White Ones

ballerina

Ballet dancers of color have long painted, dyed or covered point shoes in makeup to match their skin. Could this small barrier to inclusion finally be disappearing?

For nearly her whole career, Cira Robinson has — like many ballet dancers of color — performed a ritual: Painting her point shoes to match her skin.

She did it first in 2001, when she was 15, at a summer program with Dance Theater of Harlem. The company said her shoes needed to be brown, not the traditional pink, but she couldn’t find any in stores, so she used spray paint. “It made them crunchy and just … ew,” she said in a telephone interview.

When she joined Dance Theater a few years later, she started using makeup instead. “I’d go to the cheapest stores and get foundation,” she said, the kind “you’d never put on your face as it’d break you out. Like, $2.95 cheap.”

She’d go through five tubes a week, sponging it onto 12 to 15 pairs of shoes — a process known in ballet circles as pancaking. It took 45 minutes to an hour to do a pair, she said, because she wanted to make sure the foundation got into every crevice and covered every bit of ribbon.

Did she find these steps annoying? “I didn’t know any different,” Ms. Robinson, 32, said.

But now, Ms. Robinson — a senior artist at Ballet Black, a British dance company — is no longer obliged to do so. In October, Freed of London, which supplies her shoes, started selling two point shoes specifically for dancers of color: One brown, the other bronze.

Freed is not the first firm to make point shoes for dancers of color — the American company Gaynor Minden has been producing some more than a year — but the new shoes from Freed, a large supplier in the ballet world, highlight one of the stranger rituals that dancers of color have to perform.

It’s also a reminder that black dancers — especially female ones — are still a rarity in ballet. They remain barely represented at the top of the field, despite some signs of change and an increased awareness of the need for diversity at the schools feeding professional companies.

Shoes aren’t the only costuming reminders of the lack of diversity in ballet. In September, Precious Adams, a first artist at English National Ballet raised the issue of pink tights. “In ballet people have very strong ideas about tradition,” she told London’s Evening Standard newspaper. “They think me wearing brown tights in a tutu is somehow ‘incorrect.’”

When Digital Nightmares Make Great Clothes

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MILAN — Earlier this summer Apple unveiled a new retail concept in Milan: a store beneath a glassed-in cascading fountain in a piazza just around the corner from the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, the shopping thoroughfare that connects the Duomo and the Piazza San Babila. That was just a little more than month before Starbucks invaded the historic environs of the city’s former central post office with its first outpost in Italy, a Reserve Roastery. Thus the world turns.

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READ MORE:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/fashion/prada-moschino-milan-fashion-week.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Ffashion&action=click&contentCollection=fashion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=sectionfront