TIME Culture

The Super Bowl Is a Bum Deal for My Town

View outside the University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 25, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.
View outside the University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 25, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Christian Petersen—Getty Images

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

Many of us here believe this should be Glendale’s last

My family and I moved to Glendale, Arizona — where the Super Bowl will be played this weekend — in 1968, when it was one of many small Arizona towns ringing Phoenix.

Glendale was small and comfortable. Our young children walked a quarter mile to school. What is today the upscale area of Arrowhead was then a desert where we took the kids to ride motorbikes and shoot BB guns. On a spring evening, the air was heavy with the scent of citrus blossoms.

Fans who attend the Super Bowl will encounter an entirely different city, a place that has bet its future on professional sports. If some locals look less than happy this weekend, know that it’s the risks involved in that gamble, not the traffic, that’s bothering us.

Glendale has undergone dramatic change. At its incorporation in 1912, it was a Russian-Asian-Hispanic farming community. In the 1960s, when my family moved here, Glendale was a small city of 45,000. Then, in the 1990s, while I served on the city council, new subdivisions, including Arrowhead, and new shopping, including Arrowhead Mall, grew up.

But Glendale wanted more than to be just another Phoenix suburb. In the early 2000s, as I returned to the council, our attention turned to the possibilities of sports as a catalyst. A strategy took shape: if we built major sports venues, the resulting tourism and sales tax dollars would strengthen city coffers and allow for major improvements in the quality of life.

First, a city-owned venue for professional hockey and for entertainment and a complementary retail complex, Westgate, were built in partnership with a developer. Then, with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, we created two more sports facilities: the county-owned University of Phoenix football stadium (home to the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals) and a city-owned spring training baseball facility called Camelback Ranch (home-away-from-home to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox). The football stadium put Glendale in the Super Bowl business for the first time; promised windfalls from hosting the big game were supposed to afford us the option of paying off construction debt related to the hockey arena and the baseball facility sooner.

But it wasn’t long before optimistic staff projections of increased sales tax receipts and new economic development proved to be wrong. Then came the national recession, just as we hosted our first Super Bowl in 2008. The big game, was supposed to draw new development to the city, but didn’t. Instead, it left the city with bills. The city spent $3.4 million on the event and recouped a little over $1.2 million in sales tax and fees.

The resulting $2.2 million loss was just one sign that our sports strategy was unsustainable. Debt related to the two sports venues that Glendale itself owned — the hockey arena and the ballpark — proved to be a financial albatross. The regular season football games proved to be a wash financially. While sales tax revenues from Westgate are greater on game days, the additional revenue is consumed by increased public safety and transportation costs.

Other Super Bowl host cities, Miami Gardens in Florida and the Arlington area in Texas, have mechanisms for state reimbursement of their hosting costs, but we don’t. Legislation to provide such reimbursement to Glendale hasn’t made it through the Arizona legislature. In recent years, Glendale’s mayor has concluded it doesn’t seem prudent to be in the Super Bowl hosting business if there is no way to recover its costs.

So why is the Super Bowl in Glendale again? The Super Bowl bid process is a long one, and locations are approved many years before the actual event. Tremendous political pressure was placed on the city from the owners of the Arizona Cardinals, swaying a majority of the council to approve the bid in 2011. I was not in the majority.

There are good things about the Super Bowl. Even though Glendale loses money, the state, the county and the Phoenix area share in an economic boost of $500 million. Direct TV is hosting a major music festival in Glendale across the street from the stadium, and the city holds one of its premier events, the Chocolate Affaire, Super Bowl. The confluence of chocolate lovers and football fans will generate revenue for Glendale’s merchants and restaurants.

But costs to host this year’s Super Bowl will be greater than they were in 2008. The city’s loss for this game is sure to be greater than $2.2 million. We love Glendale and so will this year’s Super Bowl visitors. But many of us here believe this should be Glendale’s last Super Bowl.

Joyce Clark is a 47-year resident of Glendale and served on the City Council for sixteen years. She retired in 2013 and now spends time maintaining a back yard pond populated by Japanese Koi and is a blog writer on local Glendale issues. She wrote this article for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Culture

Every Teenager Should Be Required to Work a Grubby Job

teenager mowing lawn
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Melanie Howard has written for SELF, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and other publications.

Our over-scheduled, pampered kids need part-time jobs to learn humility.

There’s been a lot of talk about Wonder Bread bags since Joni Ernst’s State of the Union response. (Consensus among my colleagues, regardless of party, is that we wore them too, but over our socks and under our boots. Exterior bags must be an Iowa thing.) Less attention has been given to her part-time teenage job making biscuits at Hardee’s. Maybe that’s because everyone I know over forty, regardless of income, had a job like that. The most surprising thing was that Ernst tied her Hardee’s experience to modest income and humble beginnings. In college, I knew a debutante from Texas who had a real butler answer the door at her holiday party, but still got up every morning at four to make the salt rising bread in the student union bakery. Where I come from — meaning the distant past of the seventies — menial jobs were a rite of passage, even for those lucky enough not to hold them for life.

That seems to have changed. Between 1990 and 2012, the percentage of high schoolers with part time jobs dropped from 32 to 16 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Between 2000 and 2012 the percentage of employed college students dropped from 52 to 40 percent. A good portion of that is economics — due to the economy, many adults were snapping up those jobs. But just from personal observation, I think there’s another trend involved. The gap between rich and poor is now clearly reflected in how our more well-to-do high school and college students spend their spare time.

Living in the Washington suburbs, I see a culture where elite sports, study abroad, and internships have replaced crappy part-time and summer jobs for upper middle class students. I’ve often heard that with college admissions being so competitive, our children don’t have time to work. I was once shot down with this rationale when I suggested the girls on a travel team have a bake sale to pay for a trip instead of their parents writing checks. It may have been just as well — I’m sure it would have been moms doing the baking and selling anyway — but, I have to call nonsense on this. Students manage to find time for ski trips, surfing trips (often coupled with a mandatory service project helping poor kids who conveniently live near Costa Rican resorts), not to mention the more traditional student activities of binge TV watching and underage drinking at unchaperoned parties. But somehow in between that photo safari in Tanzania and SAT prep, there never seems to be time left for bagging groceries at the Giant. That’s a pity.

I believe internships and travel are enriching and can help young people build their visions of the world and place in it, and my children have experienced both. But they aren’t a substitute for a grubby job with an unreasonable boss and an inflexible schedule. This too is part of the real world. Nobody wants to hire an attorney or brain surgeon and find out their case is his first real job.

A minimum wage job also teaches humility. It can be a good thing for a child who has been told he’s special since birth to learn he’s not too special to clean the fryer. A 2013 New York Times article on a new private school opening in Manhattan said educators’ research had shown that top colleges found New York City applicants lacking in humility. The parents’ answer: teach humility at a private school for upwards of $40,000 per year. I can’t help but picture the Dalai Lama being flown in on a dad’s Netjet for an afternoon seminar. Wouldn’t a shift at the Yogi Berry be simpler and more cost effective?

My daughter’s first summer job was at a national retail chain. While she worked with a few other college students, there were also many young people for whom this was their real means of support. One of her colleagues was a young man from Texas who’d been thrown out of his house after he came out. He’d made his way to Washington and was living on the same hourly wage that my daughter had been complaining wasn’t enough for her Metrocard, coffee, and makeup. She’d volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and other organizations, so the existence of people with less wasn’t news to her. But working day-to-day with someone as a colleague is different. You are equals, and you see life through each others’ eyes, if only for a few months.

So while Joni Ernst and I will likely never agree on anything politically, I applaud her hours laboring over those Hardee’s biscuits, just as I’m sure she’d respect the gross-out evenings I spent scrubbing out the seafood buffet table at the late, unlamented Jolly Lobster in downtown Hampton, Virginia. When the Senator or I walk into a restaurant and look at the staff, we see ourselves. All the surfing trips to Costa Rica and law firm internships in the world can’t give you that.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME photography

See Photos of Vintage Coca-Cola Signs from New York City to Bangkok

On January 31, 1893, Coca-Cola became a registered trademark, launching what would come to be one of the most recognized brands in the world

In 1891, Asa Candler bought a company for $2,300. That price tag in today’s dollars is closer to $60,000, but still, not a bad deal for a business that would gross a profit of more than $30 billion in 2014. During the early years, Candler focused his efforts on building his brand, offering coupons for free samples and distributing tchotchkes with the company’s logo on them. The aggressive marketing paid off. By 1895, a glass of Coca-Cola could be found in every state in America.

By the time Henry Luce purchased LIFE Magazine in 1936, Coca-Cola was just years away from producing its billionth gallon of its trademark soda syrup. The pages of LIFE bubble with Coke ads, the first one appearing in 1937, and many issues included multiple invitations to “add zest to the hour” and take “the pause that refreshes.”

But LIFE was not only a purchaser of Coca-Cola advertising. LIFE’s photographers were also capturing the growing ubiquity of that Spencerian Script—the looping, cursive font of Coke’s logo—in places as far-reaching as Bangkok and the Autobahn. During the 1930s, the company had begun to set up bottling plants in other countries. But when General Eisenhower sent an urgent cable from North Africa in 1943, requesting that Coca-Cola establish more overseas bottling plants in order to boost soldiers’ morale, the wheels were set in motion for rapid international expansion. Wartime saw the addition of 64 foreign plants to the existing 44, and post-war growth continued steadily.

The photos here depict not just the way Coke began to blend into international surroundings—by the late 1960s, half of the company’s profits would come from foreign outposts—but also the wide array of American locales and subcultures the brand was penetrating. Led by company president Robert Woodruff, whose term began in 1923, Coca-Cola’s vigorous marketing efforts found footholds for the brand from segregated country stores to New York City’s Columbus Circle to roadside stands in Puerto Rico.

Of the dozens of slogans Coca-Cola has had over the years, the one it debuted in 1945 was certainly aligned with the global domination the company had set its sights on. “Passport to refreshment” was not just a clever pun, but a sign of things to come.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Culture

The Real Reason We’re So Obsessed With Deflategate

AFC Championship - Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots
Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on from the sideline in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts during the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on Jna. 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Mass. Elsa—Getty Images

Mark Edmundson teaches at the University of Virginia and is the author of Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game.

Football addicts and football haters can agree on one thing: America loves to talk about Deflategate.

What do we talk about when we talk about football? It’s worth asking the question now because, in the past few weeks, there has been more public talk about the game than at almost any time one can remember. We have the deflated balls that (maybe) brought the New England Patriots a significant advantage in a critical play-off game. We have the shrugging Coach Belichick, cowled like a monk in his hoody, saying he did nothing, nothing, nothing wrong. (Then he went out and conducted a science experiment to prove it.) We have the blandly smiling quarterback, Lucky Tom, with the super-model wife and the golden arm and the slow, slow legs, telling the world that he’s as innocent as the angel he looks to be. And we have everyone talking about it.

I flipped on the TV yesterday, saw a clip of Belichick holding forth, and imagined I was on a sports station, ESPN maybe. Not so, I was watching the straight up news. Some news shows seem to have led with Deflategate, skimming past a possible Russian invasion of the Ukraine and other diversions to get to the real meat and buttered potatoes of the day.

Why all this talk about deflated balls from inflated egos who simply will not stop going on about it to an audience that, granted, appears to be rapt? Everyone wants to talk about Deflategate: let’s let ISIS and Ukraine rest, at least for now.

What do we talk about when we talk about the big Deflate? On one level, not much. The estimable Doctor Samuel Johnson was often confronted by his friends with what they took to be burning problems. Johnson had a gift for perspective. How important, he was prone to ask, will this situation appear one year hence? The answer was nearly inevitable: not very important at all.

If Johnson were around, he would no doubt pose this question about Deflategate’s importance a year down the road and the answer, I suspect, would reasonably be, not very important, not at all.

So what’s up here? Why are we so eager to talk about a phenomenon that we can be almost sure will be small beer by the time next year comes around? There are two major reasons, I think, coming from two separate groups: those who love football and those who hate it.

One must understand: those who love the game (and I count myself among their number) are addicted to it. They must have their football, they must watch their contests. For a great span of reasons, they must have their drug. To its devotees, I’d venture, the game somehow manages to calm and energize at the same time: watching it relaxes you and braces you at once. It’s an odd feeling, a feeling akin to a mild inebriation. And it’s one that is hard to give up. The devotees have just gone from having access to about twenty televised games a week to having access to one, and that one is up there far on the horizon.

We’re suffering from withdrawal. Almost half of America—the football fans—are jonesing badly indeed. How can the true fans retain contact with the game they love—and on some level have a need for that borders (maybe) on the physical?

They can talk about the game and analyze it and listen to so-called experts go at it. They can swap emails with their buddies, they can rail and rant and whisper. And in doing so, they can go through something like withdrawal. And in this withdrawal, Deflategate is their transitional drug. It’s not nearly so bracing and relaxing as watching the game on TV, but given what’s out there, it’ll have to do.

Deflategate is half the country’s Methadone.

And the other half? For them I suspect the so-called scandal is medicinal too. It’s like a warm shot glass full of righteousness: a hit of affirmation for all they believe about America and their erring countrymen and -women. A hit of booze often seconds our emotions: one shot and we know that what is right is right and that—surprise—we know exactly what right is. No one drinks that first shot to throw himself or herself into doubt.

The football haters look at Deflategate and they see more evidence for their view that the game is not only violent, brutal, and mean, but also corrupt. They see all that’s worst in America in the game of football: militarism, racism, heterosexism, anti-feminism—and now there’s palpable corruption to boot.

So Bing: Perfecta. Both sides of the aisle are engaged.

There are two Americas out there, it sometimes seems: football America and virtuous America, or an America with high pretensions to virtue. Neither one loves the other overmuch. This scandal—destined probably to mean nothing a year down the road—lays open the fissures in our culture that, as a presidential election looms closer and closer, are likely to become yet more visible and far more vehement.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME 2015 Super Bowl

The Ad That Changed Super Bowl Commercials Forever

How "The Force" has remained the most shared Super Bowl ad of all-time

In 2011, on the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, a new Volkswagen commercial popped up on YouTube. “The Force” featured a kid ambling about his house dressed as Star Wars’ Darth Vader while attempting to use the Dark Side on everything from the family dog to the new Passat sitting in the driveway.

From the early 1980s—when Super Bowl ads became as anticipated as the game itself—until that moment, advertisers generally kept their spots under wraps, careful not to jeopardize the big reveal. But for the 2011 Super Bowl, Volkswagen was in a bind. The company had bought two 30-second spots—one for “The Force,” advertising the new Passat, and another called “Black Beetle,” showing off the new Jetta, both created by the ad agency Deutsch. But everyone involved felt a 60-second version of “The Force” was their best work. It was just too long to play during the game.

VW’s marketing team also knew they were facing big obstacles on game day: the company hadn’t run a Super Bowl ad in over a decade, and the two commercials they planned to run would be competing against multiple spots from larger automakers with more ad dollars. So they decided that one possible way to stand out was to release “The Force” early, even though it defied what was widely accepted as smart advertising strategy around the biggest ad day of the year.

“It’s hard to think about now, but at the time, it was not the conventional wisdom to air or put online a commercial that was meant for the Super Bowl,” says Tim Ellis, who was the head of marketing for Volkswagen North America at the time and is now the chief marketing officer for video game maker Activision. “The wisdom was you hold it, because you would get the most value out of that impression by waiting.”

Ellis says it was a controversial decision to run it early, even among the ad agency and VW’s marketing team. “But I thought if everything goes right, this thing will catch fire and go viral,” he says.

By 8 a.m. Thursday, “The Force” had been viewed 1.8 million times on YouTube and had racked up 17 million views before kickoff, according to figures provided by Deutsch. Today, “The Force” has 61 million views on YouTube and is still the most shared Super Bowl ad of all-time and the second most shared TV commercial ever.

“It paid for itself before it ever ran,” says Mike Sheldon, CEO of Deutsch North America.

MORE 5 Ways This Year’s Super Bowl Ads Will Be Like No Other

The ad’s runaway success changed how advertisers approach Super Bowl Sunday ever since. Instead of standalone spots, Super Bowl ads have become the anchors of extended marketing campaigns with vast social media presences often launched weeks before the game. This year, more than 20 brands have already released their full Super Bowl ads or special teasers for them.

“Super Bowl advertising has changed fundamentally,” says Tim Calkins, a Northwestern University marketing professor. “It’s gone from being a one-time event to a months-long marketing campaign.”

For years, the Super Bowl ad was a fleeting thing. 1984—the Apple ad still widely considered the greatest Super Bowl commercial—aired just twice, once in 10 local outlets on Dec. 31, 1983, and once more during the game the following month.

As the audience for the game grew, brands expanded their Super Bowl marketing budgets (think Budweiser’s talking frogs and Pepsi’s splashy productions with Ray Charles and Cindy Crawford). During the first Super Bowl, the average cost of a 30-second spot was $40,000 ($280,000 when adjusted for inflation). This year, NBC is charging $4.5 million, and at least one NBC executive claims that the exposure brands get during the Super Bowl is closer to $10 million in value. And as our media consumption habits have been transformed by social networks and mobile devices, a Super Bowl ad now needs to resonate on social media to be considered successful. Budweiser, for example, has launched the social media campaign #BestBuds urging people to help a rancher find his lost puppy in its latest spot, and Pepsi and ShopTV will send out tweets during Katy Perry’s halftime performance with links for viewers to buy related merchandise.

“What was just a bunch of 30-, 60-second TV commercials, everybody now has turned this into a full-on social media integrated play,” Deutsch’s Sheldon says. “I don’t look at Super Bowl ads as TV commercials. The Super Bowl is a social media and PR phenomenon that has a number of integrated components in which one is a TV commercial.”

MORE Watch Victoria’s Angels Play Football (in Actual Football Attire)

This photo of a kid dressed as Darth Vader inside a Burger King inspired the creative team at Deutsch as they were making “The Force” ad. Courtesy of Deutsch

More than any other ad agency, Deutsch appears to have been the first to recognize that new paradigm. Back in 2010, when the agency won a bid to develop the TV campaign for Volkswagen’s Jetta and Passat lines, employees in Deutsch’s Los Angeles offices had placed funny photos above their four-color copy machine, one of which was a kid in a Darth Vader costume sulking inside a Burger King. That inspired the company’s creative team to come up with a spot featuring a similar kid dressed as the Star Wars villain who keeps failing in his attempts to use the Force around his home until he succeeds in turning on his dad’s new Volkswagen (the assist from his dad, who actually turned on the car, was a clever way to tout the Passat’s new remote starter). It was a perfect combination: the enduring popularity of Star Wars, childhood nostalgia, touching moments between a father and son, a narrative arc that went tidily from conflict to resolution, and plenty of humor thanks to a 6-year-old dressed as a notorious movie villain.

“If you don’t have all of these ingredients, the spot really doesn’t work,” says Tom Else, Deutsch’s VW account director.

Deutsch executives say it was a rare spot where there were essentially no changes or edits coming from inside creative or from the client.

“Very early on we knew it was extraordinary, but you can never predict what the world thinks is fantastic,” Else says.

Soon after it launched, “The Force” became the most shared TV spot of all-time, according to Unruly, which tracks and analyzes viral videos. The ad held the top spot for three years, until July 2014, when it was knocked off by a music video sponsored by yogurt brand Activia and featuring the singer Shakira. But “The Force” is still considered the most shared Super Bowl ad of all time.

“Every decade or so, there’s lightning in a bottle,” says Matt Jarvis, chief strategy officer of ad agency 72andSunny, which produced a popular Super Bowl ad for Samsung in 2013 and created a spot for Carl’s Jr. this year. “And I think this is one of those cases.”

Jarvis says “The Force” successfully used a combination of both earned media—YouTube hits, for example—along with paid media, such as a 15-second teaser spot that aired on “Saturday Night Live” the night before the game, to create momentum that continued through the Super Bowl.

“It was about building that wave and then riding that wave,” Ellis says.

It helped that the ad contained all the components of a viral hit. Unruly recently group-tested “The Force” and found that it still resonated with viewers, discovering that it hit five of 10 “social motivators” that Unruly’s execs say trigger people to share something. They found that viewers sent the ad to others in part because it reflected a shared passion with someone else (love for Star Wars, for instance) and that sharers believed it could be useful (their friend might be looking for a new car). But Unruly also found that it resonated on a more gut level, eliciting feelings of joy and surprise when the kid “turns on” the car, which researchers says is a key component in motivating us to share.

MORE Budweiser’s Super Bowl Ad About a Lost Puppy is an Emotional Roller Coaster

“It’s a great example of emotion,” says Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, adding that the peaks and valleys of the kid failing and finally succeeding, as well as the nostalgia it can elicit, are the main triggers for why it went viral.

After “The Force’s” success, Deutsch sensed that other advertisers would start releasing their ads early as well. So in 2012, the agency released the first full-length ad for an ad when it launched The Bark Side, which included dogs bark-singing Star Wars’ Imperial March. For the game, it released The Dog Strikes Back as its official Super Bowl ad, which again included the Darth Vader Kid from the previous year’s commercial. Both ads have remained in Unruly’s top 20 viral Super Bowl ads of all-time.

Since “The Force,” advertisers have increasingly created teaser ads, alternate versions of their Super Bowl commercials, or have released the ad in its entirety early. Among this year’s efforts to gin up early buzz are a T-Mobile spot featuring Kim Kardashian, a teaser for a Nationwide ad with actress Mindy Kaling, and a Bud Light spot that debuted on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.” Dove, meanwhile, posted a version of its ad almost two weeks before the game, while Lexus released its full ad more than two weeks before Super Bowl Sunday.

MORE Watch a Dude Run Through a Life-Size Pac-Man Game in Bud Light’s Super Bowl Ad

There are now essentially three groups of brands competing during the Super Bowl: those who release their ads early, those who tease their ads, and those who keep the ads a surprise. Northwestern’s Calkins says that for most advertisers, getting out early is often the best strategy.

“The Super Bowl builds over a matter of weeks, so if you’re a marketer, you have an opportunity to engage with customers for seven, 14, 21 days,” Calkins says. “You can really get some mileage from your creative.”

The challenge for Super Bowl advertisers, Calkins says, is twofold: breaking through the noise and saying something important about the product. “The hard thing is doing both of those things at the same time,” he says. “Ideally, you come up with an ad as charming as ‘The Force’ that also delivers a product benefit. But that is incredibly difficult to do.”

This year, Deutsch is working on two ads: one for mobile battery company mophie, and the other for Sprint. The company released the mophie spot on Thursday:

It’s designed to be understood even if you can’t hear the TV over loud and rowdy friends. “If you’re relying on some sort of audio or voice gag, it can get missed,” Sheldon says. “You can run that spot with no audio and you get the joke.”

But Deutsch is going in a different direction with its Sprint ad. While the agency has created a teaser, the actual ad won’t be released before the Super Bowl. The hope is that it can distinguish itself by swimming against the tide the agency helped create.

“When everybody else is screaming, the one whispering stands out,” Sheldon says. “It has a different volume than others. We’re breaking our own rules a little bit. It’s the kind of spot that you wouldn’t want to release early.”

Read next: 49 Super Bowl Facts You Should Know Before Super Bowl XLIX

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TIME society

The Organic Food Movement Is an Insufferably Classist Waste of Money

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

Why must we feed this obsession and give up common sense and taste?

I am 47. I say this for reference. Correction: more as an admonishment. I grew up in the 1980s, the decade of big hair and bigger shoulder pads. In short, a time when excess and indulgence were still cool. That being said, indulge me. Here goes:

I hate the whole organic food movement. Notice I said “movement,” because it is the mindset that is perverse and insufferable.

My hatred stems from the fact that this trend is a repudiation of my own working class background. Eating organic is eating more expensively and, in my opinion, often unnecessarily.

Just this morning as I was drinking my morning coffee with milk (more on this later), I almost choked when I saw the latest report on “Good Morning America.” The “next big super drink” sweeping the country in 2015, according to GMA, is organic birch tree water. The water is actually the sap from birch trees tapped in early spring. Sounds very pastoral, almost nostalgic of a simpler era, something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Think again.

A quick search with Amazon suppliers indicates that this tree sap is like liquid gold. It is hard to come by, except if you happen to be a native of a Slavic country. A case of this forest juice, which equates to 10 bottles, is $24.95 — without shipping. Give me my store-brand bottled water or, better yet, water that comes out of my kitchen faucet.

I do not think it is wise to have to budget for simple hydration. Can you say fad? Remember coconut water?

People who eat primarily organic are the same hipsters who make their little ones toil in community gardens after picking them up from child care cooperatives. What they can’t harvest, they buy in small shops that sell two dozen kinds of honey, and enough soy and tofu to choke a cow.

I don’t know about you, but the only time I ever had honey as a kid was when I was sick. It was added to my mug of Lipton tea and came out of a little golden bear-shaped squeeze bottle. (And in my budget challenged household, we re-used the tea bag.)

And as for cows, they are regarded as one moo short of pure evil by people who fear the possibility they may be treated with antibodies or growth hormones and steroids. The organic foodies raise children who may never experience the lush, velvety feel of a milk mustache. Instead, they get the flat, chalky aftertaste of some almond-based alternative milk product.

Rather than dunk Oreos rich with refined sugars, they wash down carob biscuits baked with agave.

I am not going to argue the health benefits of an organic diet. Medical studies come and go, but there is no conclusive evidence which says eating organic is eating more nutritiously. And the verdict is still out on taste differences. Although those who have tried birch tree water say it is an “acquired taste,” and have likened it to flavored medicine. Yummy.

I fear, however, that some of these all natural choices (all the friggin’ time) are leading us down a strange path.

Let’s face it: When you remove “bad calories,” and “unnatural additives,” you cut out the fun, and not trim it either. Ask any person on a diet if they are happy. But at least on a diet there are cheat days.

The comforting lethargy that follows a big dish of processed macaroni and cheese (made with the little envelope of bright yellow powder) is never experienced by organic foodies or their progeny. Instead of lolling on the couch, they are busy reading labels to determine if what they ingest is locally sourced. I like farmers as much as the next person, but as a city gal, agriculture was never my strong point.

In fact, part of the expense of organic products is the extra inspection and certification by government agencies. This cost to the producers is passed down to consumers. The organic foodies are ever vigilant that their foods are not produced by methods that employ chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Granted, poisons in the food chain should be avoided. It is not like I aspire to be first on the toxic food line.

But I have to confess that the adage, what you don’t know, won’t hurt you has served me well.

There is even organic food in the marketplace for our family pets. Funny, I don’t have a desire to spend more to feed my own three beloved dogs and feel good about myself as a pet parent. I would rather donate the money to an animal shelter.

There is a superiority among the organic foodies and a class distinction that goes beyond pure consumerism. I might be sensitive about my blue-collar upbringing, but digging deeper in your pocket does not mean you are spending wisely.

People who shop in supermarkets, buy in bulk, or clip coupons are not discriminatory, well-informed, or hip enough to live in the same neighborhoods for many organic foodies. Organic food, which has earned prime shelf space, is muscling out some of the less expensive choices, and is making it harder to stretch a dollar.

In short, my own dad, who was a bus driver, could never have afforded the lifestyle enjoyed by these purists. In my day, eating TV dinners and canned foods was good enough. Blissful ignorance? Maybe.

I might have evolved to the point where I prefer fresh (or at least frozen) produce over canned varieties, and meat from a butcher rather than a plastic tray. I have been known to avoid any packaging that has more than three polysyllabic ingredients that I cannot pronounce.

But don’t take away my Oreos.

Andrea Della Monica wrote this article for xoJane.

Read next: A Guide to What Kind of Eggs You Should Buy

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Dating

These Are the 20 Best Cities for Singles

New York, NY
New York, NY Noe DeWitt

Here are the liveliest singles scenes, whether at bars, bookstores or bowling alleys

The singles scene in New York City is a little crazy, maybe even certifiably so.

“This is a city with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but only in the best ways,” says Rachel Harrison, a Brooklyn-based public relations exec. “You can dress a little wilder, slap on some fake eyelashes—you can do anything you want, at any age. There are no judgments.”

Unabashedly batting those faux lashes got the Big Apple more than a few second glances this year. New York City landed in the top 10 for the best cities for singles, according to Travel + Leisure readers. In this year’s America’s Favorite Places survey, readers ranked 38 cities on dozens of appealing qualities, including good-looking locals, cool shopping, and hipster-magnet coffee bars.

The winning cities in the singles-scene category excel in the off-hours, ranking highly for nightclubs, dive bars, and even great diners, where you might lock eyes with someone over a late-night order of fries.

But the most singles-friendly cities also put a creative spin on conventional meet-up spots. Plenty of big attractions—from the Brooklyn Museum to the San Diego Museum of Art—offer monthly happy hours, wooing artsy singles with cocktails and live music. In Boston, one of the coolest bookstores does Trivia Nights, while in downtown L.A. a popular bar stocks old-school video games.

Another strategy for uncovering a city’s best singles scene is exploring the activities that locals love most. “New Orleanians live and breathe festivals—like Jazz Fest, and even Creole Tomato Fest,” says native Stephen Schmitz. Just be warned: “The heat and humidity,” he says, “can make for a rough appearance.”

Read on for the full results. And make your point of view heard by voting in the America’s Favorite Places survey.

No. 1 Miami

Gorgeous locals, a wealth of nightclubs, and a wild streak as long as the beach: Miami climbed from second to first place this year, thanks to its flair for throwing a big party. Hot spots like Wall at the W South Beach or the Italian-restaurant-meets-cocktail-lounge Cavalli get a big boost when celebs grace the premises, whether it’s Bieber or the formerly single Clooney. Other trendy hangouts are a little more accessible to the non-red-carpet crowd: Tamarina, for one, features an oyster bar and alfresco champagne bar, plus a reasonably priced happy hour. You might meet other singles while strolling through galleries and past street art on the Wynwood Art Walks, held the second Saturday of the month. And in this otherwise well-dressed town, your best secret-weapon accessory may be a smile: readers found the locals to be a little aloof.

No. 2 Houston

Houston sashayed into the top five for singles this year, and why not—the locals ranked as both smart and stylish, and the city landed near the top for both its decadent barbecue and world-class art. Gallery Row, at the intersection of Colquitt and Lake streets, offers both great art and conversation starters: check out Hooks-Epstein for contemporary surrealists or Catherine Couturier Gallery for vintage photos. Houston also pulled off an upset by winning the wine bar category this year. Pull up a stool to chat at La Carafe—the city’s oldest bar, with a fabulous jukebox—or try the newbie, downtown’s Public Services Wine and Whisky, which is located in the old 1884 Cotton Exchange building and serves a wide range of global wines, sherries, and whiskeys.

No. 3 New Orleans

Last year’s No. 1 city for singles still knows how to whoop it up, ranking at the top of the survey for festivals, bars, and wild weekends. But a good singles experience in NOLA need not be limited to collecting beads: some cool places to meet a more local crowd, off the tourist grid, include the Saturday night dance party at the Hi-Ho Lounge in the Marigny; Bywater wine bar Bacchanal, with its live-music-filled courtyard; or Fulton Alley for late-night “boutique bowling,” with shareable, andouille-sausage tater tots.

No. 4 Austin, TX

The seat of Texas government is also the nation’s capital of hipsters, according to readers, who also ranked Austin No. 1 for cool locals. Given Austin’s high density of both college students and bearded Peter Pan types, the can’t-miss spots for meeting singles include dive bars and food trucks: you can find both at Wonderland on East 6th, a stylishly low-key bar that provides space outside for the Thai-flavored East Side King truck. To mingle with fellow foodies, check out The Picnic, a trailer park on Barton Springs Road, which is home to Turf N Surf Po’ Boy and Hey Cupcake! If you need an excuse to let down your emotional walls, consider that Austin also ranked well for feeling safe.

No. 5 Atlanta

The Georgia hub scored well for its java, and Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, a single-origin coffee and donut bar in Ponce City Market, is a fine place for a pick-me-up (and perhaps a pick-up line). If you prefer snobs of the burger variety, head to Holeman and Finch, where every night at 10 p.m., you can line up for one of the 24 acclaimed double-patty (grass-fed chuck and brisket) cheeseburgers, served on house-made buns. Atlanta’s residents also made the top 20 for being smart.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME weather

Here’s a Closer Look at the ‘Snowmenclature’ People Are Using

Literal is so hot right now

Every great blizzard that hits the U.S. sends people running to the grocery store to stockpile canned goods and, in recent years, to their keyboards for rampant hashtagging. As snow hit the Northeast on Monday and Tuesday, social media was rife with references to the #snowicane, the #snowjam and the #snownado.

TIME partnered with Hashtracking to find out which trending hashtags were getting the most traction on Twitter, as New York residents geared up for chaos that never really hit and New Englanders battened down the hatches. The results are in: The top hashtag for tweeting about the storm is the quite literal #blizzardof2015. (You can get a closer look at the chart here.)

Chart complied by Hashtracking

But, as with many competitions, the winners aren’t as interesting as the losers. Juno, the green line above in a solid third place, is the name for the storm chosen by the Weather Channel. That cable network decided two years ago that it would start giving names to winter storms like the government does for hurricanes, a move many saw as a branding “ploy”.

The government hasn’t endorsed the Weather Channel’s names and doesn’t name winter storms itself because snowstorms are more frequent and more ambiguous than events like hurricanes. The network has said its aim is to make people more aware of such events, but it appears that people prefer to orient themselves with the more straightforward #blizzardof2015 than the more arbitrary #Juno.

That unpoetic hashtag has also trumped the long-dominant blizzard-time puns #snowmageddon and #snowpocalypse. This blizzard may mark the first time some people are hearing this duo of “portmansnows”—as Stanford University linguist Arnold Zwicky dubbed them—but they have been around for at least a decade. And they may finally have reached a point of exposure where they’re on the way out.

Ben Zimmer, executive editor at Vocabulary.com, found evidence of bloggers using this “snowmenclature” when storms hit the U.S. in 2005. But, he says, they didn’t really blow up until Twitter had taken hold in 2010. Even President Barack Obama was on board that year. “Hashtags lend themselves to this play with blended words,” Zimmer says. “And a successful blend, one people recognize and understand, is one where the parts are obvious at first glance, like snowmageddon.”

MORE: Why Blizzards Turn Us Into Irrational Hoarders at the Grocery Store

Clearly snowmageddon is a blend of the white precipitation commonly known as snow and Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil that leaves the earth in ashes—just as snowpocalypse is a blend of snow and apocalypse, a last catastrophe that marks the end of the world.

But what really makes these words irresistible (at least for a while) is the nature of the events that inspired them. As Zimmer says, “It makes you feel like you’re in a disaster movie.” And what’s the best part of a huge snowstorm or a zombie takeover that leaves 10 newly acquainted survivors huddled in a farmhouse? The same thing. There’s a suspension of the rules. You’re expected to figure things out for yourself and you get to do things you wouldn’t on any regular day. Walking right down the middle of what is usually a busy street is a thrilling little treat, whether everybody’s dead or everybody’s cars are stuck in their driveways.

Just like those survivors in the farmhouse, there is also a sudden solidarity among everyone who is having their normal lives upended. “There’s something kind of exciting and it kind of draws everybody together,” says Tom Skilling, top weather broadcaster for WGN in Chicago. “‘We’re about to go through this as a group and if we all deal with this together, we’ll get through this.’ Major weather events affect everybody, all ages, all demographic groups. And if it doesn’t happen too often, there’s a drawing together that goes on.”

That said, Skilling is not a big fan of these “gimmicky” words. He’s more of a #blizzardof2015 kind of guy. The fact that they’re so hyperbolic—clearly no one is taking a snowstorm as seriously as an apocalypse—makes them playful. And the fact that they’re playful might lead to people not taking dangerous weather events as seriously as they should, he says. “You’re dealing with an event in nature that really does have great consequence,” he says. “Sometimes we’re better off just dealing with facts.” (Then Skilling apologizes for being a killjoy.)

Here is a short selection of puns and plays on words the people are using to get themselves through this cold, dark time.

#snowbomb
#snowboken
#SnowCountryForOldMen
#SnowEndInSight
#snowghazi
#snowgate
#snowicane
#snowjam
#snowjob
#snowku (for haikus about the storm)
#snowlarvortex
#snowmageddon
#snownado
#SnowtoriousRex
#snowwhat

(Feel free to tweet the author with other puns to add.)

TIME Travel

The 16 Best Small-Town Museums in the U.S.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University Paul Warchol

These museums offer outsize collections of Impressionist paintings, modern installations, and folk art—without the big-city crowds

The first significant new museum of American art in nearly half a century debuted in 2011. But to view Crystal Bridges’ collection—from a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington to Jackson Pollock canvases—you don’t travel to New York, L.A., or Chicago. You head down a forested ravine in a town in northwestern Arkansas.

As museum founder and Walmart heiress Alice Walton scooped up tens of millions of dollars’ worth of art from across the country, thinly veiled snobbish rhetoric began to trickle out from the coasts. Most notably, when she purchased Asher B. Durand’s 1849 Kindred Spirits from the New York Public Library for $35 million, some culturati bristled at the thought that this famed Hudson River School landscape would be leaving for Bentonville. The controversy raised the question: who deserves access to great art?

Yet a small town is precisely the kind of place where a stellar art collection fits in. After all, coastal hamlets, mountaintop villages, and desert whistle-stops have inspired American artists for generations, among them, the Impressionists of Connecticut’s Old Lyme Colony and the minimalist installation artists who more recently gentrified Marfa. Where else can you find the mix of affordable rents, access to inspiring natural vistas, and enough peace and quiet to actually get work done?

Many small towns also offer detour-worthy museums, some housed in spectacular historic spaces—old factories, former army bases, Beaux-Arts estates, Victorian mansions—and others built from scratch by internationally renowned architects like Zaha Hadid and Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron. And with works inside just as varied, from landscape paintings at the Taos Art Museum to minimalist installations at Dia:Beacon to American folk art at the Shelburne, you’re sure to find a small-town art museum to suit any artistic taste.

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT

When iron industrialist Alfred A. Pope began buying French Impressionist masterpieces, the movement was still stirring outrage across Europe for its radical departure from tradition. But you’d never know it from the intimate, even cozy, atmosphere at the Hill-Stead Museum, which places these works in the same context in which Pope would have enjoyed them—surrounded by antiques and period Federal-, Chippendale-, and Empire-style furnishings in his hilltop estate outside of Hartford. Like the works you’ll find inside, by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Édouard Manet, the house itself now seems lovely and genteel. But it also comes with a radical backstory: the Colonial Revival mansion, completed in 1901, was designed by Pope’s own daughter, only the fourth registered female architect in American history. $15; hillstead.org.

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, Biloxi, MS

Biloxi’s Ohr-O’Keefe Museum raises many questions. You might wonder what an avant-garde museum is doing in a Gulf Coast beach town known for its casinos and sunshine. Or how starchitect Frank Gehry got involved in a project dedicated to obscure 19th-century ceramicist George Ohr. Or how this place is even still standing. During construction, Hurricane Katrina slammed an unmoored casino barge directly into the unfinished buildings. Any lack of logic seems appropriate in honoring Ohr, a true eccentric who dubbed himself the Mad Potter of Biloxi and was known for his delightfully misshapen, brightly colored pottery. Opened in 2010 in a thicket of live oaks, the museum encompasses brick-and-steel pavilions, twisted egg-shaped pods, and examples of 19th-century vernacular architecture, with galleries on African American art, ceramics, and Gulf Coast history. $10; georgeohr.org.

The Huntington, San Marino, CA

San Marino is named for the tiny republic on the Italian peninsula. And it’s an appropriate connection for the Huntington, where the vibe is distinctly European, thanks to 120 manicured acres (reserve ahead for the Tea Room, surrounded by a rose garden) and a collection skewed to Old World classics. The Huntington Art Gallery has the largest collection of 18th- and 19th-century British art outside of London—including works by Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable. Other galleries within this Beaux-Arts estate cover Renaissance paintings and 18th-century sculpture as well as the furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright and paintings by Mary Cassatt and Edward Hopper. A Gutenberg Bible from the 1450s and an illuminated manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the library’s gems. $20.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI

College towns offer more than beautiful campuses, tradition-rich bars, and football. Many can also brag about world-class art collections. Case in point: Michigan State University’s new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. It’s the first-ever university building designed by Pritzker Prize–winner Zaha Hadid and only her second project in North America. The corrugated stainless steel and glass facade juts sharply like a ship—or perhaps more accurately a spaceship—run aground. While the collection is primarily contemporary, the curators included some classic works to better contextualize the newer acquisitions. So you can expect Old Master paintings, 19th-century American paintings, and 20th-century sculpture, along with artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome, and the pre-Columbian Americas. Free; broadmuseum.msu.edu.

Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY

Low-slung and shedlike, with its corrugated tin roof and parallel 615-foot slabs of poured concrete, Eastern Long Island’s newest art museum features a style that might be called Modern Agricultural. Surrounded by a meadow of tall grasses on the long road to Montauk, the museum is a minimalist stunner that’s perfectly suited to its surroundings: the long horizontal space speaks both to the uninterrupted horizons of the region’s famed beaches and to the unfussy simplicity that first attracted artists like Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Willem de Kooning. Inside, under an ever-changing glow from skylights above, the collection honors the generations of artists who called this area home, such as American Impressionist William Merritt Chase and mid-century realist Fairfield Porter. In 2014, it won Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron a T+L Design Award for best museum. $10; parrishart.org.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME Culture

What Unemployed People Do With Their Time

girls-chatting-cafe
Getty Images

While most of unemployed people spend a sizable part of their day job-hunting, plenty of others seem to, well, futz around

Last September, after I got fired from what was painfully close to being my dream job, I was gripped by aimlessness, malaise, and more than a little self-loathing. I imagined myself jobless, penniless, and miserable for the rest of my days. Then, I decided to seize this less-than-shining, underemployed moment to pursue my dream of writing full-time (in my case, as a freelance culture, news, and lifestyle journalist).

Though I was nervous about taking the leap into a profession that’s notoriously competitive and unlucrative, I felt ready to try something new: to work from home on projects of my choosing, without a Big Boss breathing down my neck. I’m lucky to be semi-successful at the freelance thing, because losing or eschewing a traditional job doesn’t always unfold so smoothly for everyone, millennials included.

MORE Lessons I Learned From Getting Fired

Traditional jobs can be hard to come by for millennials — who are shaping up to be the most educated generation in history (but not the most employed; in 2014, 9.1 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds were unemployed). While the job market is picking up for many, that uptick isn’t necessarily helping millennials, for whom job security has been rocky throughout most of their adult lives. As Andrew Hanson, research analyst at Georgetown University, said back in July, “Young people are the first to be let go by companies in a recession and the last to be let back in.” As of July 2014, millennials made up a whopping 40 percent of America’s jobless masses (that equates to 4.6 million people, in case you’re curious).

As usual, the statistics for women lead to a more complicated narrative. For women 25 to 54, unemployment is 30%. The number of working women has climbed overall during the later part of the 20th century, but those numbers have been sinking since 2000, partially due to economic trends, but also to a recent rise in stay-at-home parenting. (Notably, in wealthier areas, like the Salt Lake City suburbs and the Upper East Side of New York City, rates of women working are lower than in other US regions.) Rates of female unemployment are also higher in more rural and poverty-stricken regions, of course, like the Deep South, Appalachia, Northern Michigan, and various locations in the middle of the country. (Education, or lack thereof, plays a major part.)

MORE Why Getting Pregnant Cost This Woman Her Paycheck

Plenty of American men are jobless, too (in November, 5.4 percent of men over the age of 20). Unemployed guys, reports The New York Times, work out less and feel that they have worse relationships with their families than when they were members of a workforce. Women, on the other hand, are “more likely to say that their health and their relationships with friends and family have improved since they stopped working.”

Maybe that’s because, according to this New York Times interactive that documents the average daily activities of 147 unemployed men and women aged 25-54, females tend to spend a lot more time doing housework and “caring for others” than their unemployed dude counterparts; women spend a whopping six hours on both, while men spend less than three each.

And though plenty of unemployed people spend a sizable part of their day job-hunting, plenty of others seem to, well, futz around. They tend to sleep more than their working peers (slightly more than an additional hour), and devote much more time to entertainment like TV and movies — especially the men. Out of the 65 people who spent more of their day watching movies and TV than doing anything else, 46 were men; only 19 were women. And both men and women sans jobs “spend about 1.5 times as much time socializing as the average employed person.”

MORE Why It’s So Hard To Make New Friends

The day-to-day lifestyles of the thousands of Americans eschewing traditional 9-5 workplaces — either by choice or necessity — look dramatically different from those with “normal” jobs, indeed. But as more millennials struggle to find and hold onto jobs in a competitive, overcrowded market, it seems likely that their everyday habits will be forced to evolve, whether that includes six hours of TV, socializing, traveling, care-taking or…something else altogether.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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