Culture

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Seems like half the planet is filming the recession—or trying to. Next month, our friends over at The Recess Ends will unveil the documentary they spent four months on the road shooting. Back in May, NBC pulled its casting notice for what seemed like a downturn-themed Apprentice. We’re not sure what happened to Fox’s controversial “Someone’s Gotta Go” series.

Feel like you missed your shot at being a recession celebrity? There are more opportunities out there…

recession-101-sign-self-worth-beats-net-worthEveryone is wondering who is behind the billboards that are popping up all over the country, from Times Square to I95 in Providence. Well, we’re not telling.

The campaign, which is oh so Upside of the Downturn, features slogans like, “”Self worth is greater than net worth” and “Stop obsessing about economy, you’re scaring the children.” The Associated Press says some mysterious and deep-pocketed East Coaster is to thank for the Recession 101 PSAs. They started appearing in June and are in 1,000 spots around the U.S.

We have some ideas…

Recession Dictionary Entry 150/n. Describes the period when the economy stops worsening and starts improving. The term, a combination of “downturn” and “turnaround” is specific to this Recession.

Downturnaround was (we think) was first used prominently by the clever people at New York Magazine…

Recession Dictionary Entry 150/n. Unlike many of the terms that have wiggled into our vocabulary during the downturn, this one isn’t new (or one that we invented sitting around our living rooms). Economists have used it to describe the work that people took to transition from their careers to full retirement—consulting gigs, part-time jobs, whatever. Sometimes they needed to money; other times they just didn’t want to go from 60 m.p.h. to zero.

Now, bridge jobs tide you over if you’ve been laid off and can’t find another job in your profession.

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Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness…

–From “Here is New York” by E.B. White

Driving through the parkland north of New York City and heading up the Taconic Parkway sets our current economic troubles in geologic perspective. Boulders the size of houses and trees—maples and pines and elms, some of them a hundred years old— sit imperiously as traffic flows by. The to-ings and fro-ings of the drivers and the speed and mania of commutation ebb and flow with the rising and falling of dollars to be gotten in Gotham.

My friend Steve is one person who flowed and is now ebbed, thanks to the loss of his job this spring. Over the years, he had commuted in from parts of Westchester, making his way progressively north until he was grinding it out with a car ride to a train ride. The job allowed him to support a growing family and still have access to woods and alone time.

“I never thought once about moving into the City,” says Steve…

languages-150In American English, we have a handful of words for the recession: downturn, slump, bust, economic collapse, financial crisis. We talk about “hard times” and “tough times.” Here at Recessionwire, we’ve used all those synonyms to death. So we decided to look beyond our borders at how our friends around the world refer to the recession. (And not so we can look smart at cocktail parties.) (Okay, maybe a little bit.) We think they sound best thrown randomly into the middle of an English sentence, using a thick, “authentic” accent…

babies-silhouettes-150“The economy’s so bad we had to lay off one of our kids,” comedian Jonathan Katz recently joked.

Pretty funny. And absurd. But what about laying off the stork? Now there’s an idea…

During the Depression, the birth rate plummeted and there are several indicators —a recent uptick in vasectomies, a spike in condom sales, and buzz about pregnancy postponement on mommy blogs, health, and news sites – that this recession’s also affecting family planning.

The reality is kids cost a lot. We’re talking six figures. The Department of Agriculture estimates that families making $46,000 to $77,000 annually will spend more than $200,000 on children through high school. And that’s bare-bones—it doesn’t include college tuition. The Wall Street Journal estimates families earning $118,000 a year will spend $800,000 (on the low end!) through age 17. Of course, some prospective parents also need to factor in the up-front costs of adoption or in vitro fertilization. Madonna may be snatching up babies in Malawi, but she’s the Material Girl. What about the rest of us?

So how do you actually assess whether you can afford a baby or not? Can you really reduce a child to a financial calculation? They’re questions my new husband, Jay, and I have thought a lot about…

Cold, Cold Art

by Sara Clemence on May 18, 2009 in Culture,News

Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta) by Jeff Koons. Photo: Sotheby's
Is the art market on the verge of an ice age?

Last week, the all-important contemporary art auctions were held in New York. The big houses raked in tens of millions of dollars—Sotheby’s hit $47 million in its May 12 evening sale, and Christie’s did $93 million the next night—and set a few records. But no matter how they tried to spin it, those sums were relatively skimpy. Christie’s brought in three times more last year, and the big lot at Sotheby’s, Jeff Koons’ Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta), which had been shopped around for $20 million, sold for $5.5 million.

The problem isn’t just lack of enthusiastic buyers…

Recession Dictionary Entry 150A period of joblessness that you actually enjoy—maybe you get to lay out, sleep in, work out, read up. It helps to have savings, severance or an unemployment check to help pay the bills. We’re hearing this word used more and more, especially as people realize they may not be able to find a new job right away, so they might as well try to enjoy the time off…

Recession Dictionary Entry 150“Recession roadkill” refers to the laid-off, the unemployed, and those generally getting run over by the merciless wheels of the economy. The term has been popping up lately on the blogosphere (Jim Cramer’s blog on TheStreet.com; Miss Pink Slip ).

Ex: Being recession roadkill has allowed me to indulge my daytime soap fetish.