Nikil Saval

All articles by this author

Desperately Seeking Cities

Desperately Seeking Cities

Amazon has bankrupted the ideology it claimed to appeal to: the ideology of “urbanism.”

Most city dwellers, it turns out, live lives of quiet desperation for Amazon. What was happening to Philadelphia disclosed the emptiness not just of this city, but of what people all over the country had learned to think cities were good for.

Disrupt the Citizen

Disrupt the Citizen

Against ride-sharing

The proliferating but ever meaningless distinctions between the “bad” Uber and the “good” Lyft have obscured how destructive the rise of ride-sharing has been for workers and the cities they live in. The predatory lawlessness that prevails inside Valley workplaces scales up and out. Both companies entered their markets illegally, without regard to prevailing wages, regulations, or taxes. Like Amazon, which found a way to sell books without sales tax, this turned out to be one of the many illegal boons.

NBA Playoff Update

NBA Playoff Update

There was a kind of spiritual unity in Mike D’Antoni’s mustache and Steve Nash’s bad hair.

Historically outflanked by the Lakers, with whom they share an arena, the Clippers have no true fan base and no real reason for existence, except to satisfy the unquenchable narcissism of Los Angeles, which needs all the teams.

Turf-guarding

Turf-guarding

The Democrats give the left the middle finger.

As is well known, Perez only became a candidate at the behest of Barack Obama, picked explicitly to scuttle Ellison’s otherwise smooth path to the chairmanship. This turned the contest into a referendum on how the party feels about the Sanders activists. Evidently it feels quite hostile.

Bright Lights

Bright Lights

Sanders in Philadelphia, Castro ad mortem

The death of Fidel Castro brought to a close an entire era, in which a single figure on a small Caribbean island could dictate whole arenas of American emotional life. Since the Cuban revolution in 1959, the United States has been obsessed not with Cuba, not with communism, but with Fidel.

What Are We Trying to Figure Out?

What Are We Trying to Figure Out?

How are mutely inexpressive votes—boxes ticked once every four years by a minority of the voting-age electorate—legible?

Until November 8th, it seemed clear that one thing was going to happen, and now another thing—the exact opposite—happened, and I can’t see how this doesn’t provoke a sense of chagrin and humility.

Can I Be Honest?

Can I Be Honest?

One of the things the Clinton Democrats lorded over the Sanders supporters was their superior and more committed chauvinism.

There were photos of children, and videos of parents speaking to children, and videos of children watching Trump, and videos of children speaking to Hillary: so many children that it began to resemble a 34-year-old’s Facebook feed.

The Turning of Backs

The Turning of Backs

Day Two of the Democratic National Convention

Suddenly Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential candidate, arrived at the tent, whether informed of or anticipating the walkout it was hard to say. She told the crowd that they weren’t walking out, they were walking in (to the Green Party!). This excited some delegates—who chanted “Jill, not Hill!”—and alienated many others, who did not appreciate her co-optation of this captive audience. Once it became clear that many of the delegates wanted to leave—either to return to the arena to see the Mothers of the Movement, or to join comrades in the adjoining Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, a meeting ground for protesters—a golf cart drove up out of nowhere, Stein stepped in, and the candidate was whisked away.

Built in the Cloud

Built in the Cloud

The whole scene felt a little unhinged, exacerbated by the heat.

The booing and chanting was undirected, merely vocal resistance. But it could have been much more: the mere threat of disorder on the Convention floor had been enough to dislodge Schultz from her position; what other constructive work could it have done?

On Kobe Bryant

On Kobe Bryant

Late Kobe, like late Hemingway, was a throwback to himself.

Not a single player who is statistically “better” than Kobe has been as glorious to watch. He was a sociopath, and his deep-seated contempt drove him to become one of the most beautiful athletes. The comparison with Duncan, an incomparably nicer man and better teammate, is instructive. Though Duncan may end up being accounted the greater player, I am with those who find his post-up, bank-shot style a chore to watch. Very few, even the haters, have felt this way about Kobe in his prime.

In Baltimore

In Baltimore

Occasionally news crews would insinuate themselves into the crowds and pretend to understand what was happening. “I’m hearing lots of cries for freedom and justice here, not rioting” one newscaster said, authoritatively, while someone next to him continually interrupted: “This is about racism, not rioting. Say the word. This is about state-sponsored murder! Say it!”

The Long Eighties

The Long Eighties

Spend time among the Chinese intelligentsia today and you’ll hear many frank expressions of nostalgia for the 1980s. “Our Eighties are like your Sixties,” someone inevitably will say—in other words, the moment when the possibility of tremendous political transformation flared up only to be extinguished, sending shocks of longing through the dark years that followed.

Desperately Seeking Cities

Desperately Seeking Cities

Amazon has bankrupted the ideology it claimed to appeal to: the ideology of “urbanism.”

Most city dwellers, it turns out, live lives of quiet desperation for Amazon. What was happening to Philadelphia disclosed the emptiness not just of this city, but of what people all over the country had learned to think cities were good for.

Disrupt the Citizen

Disrupt the Citizen

Against ride-sharing

The proliferating but ever meaningless distinctions between the “bad” Uber and the “good” Lyft have obscured how destructive the rise of ride-sharing has been for workers and the cities they live in. The predatory lawlessness that prevails inside Valley workplaces scales up and out. Both companies entered their markets illegally, without regard to prevailing wages, regulations, or taxes. Like Amazon, which found a way to sell books without sales tax, this turned out to be one of the many illegal boons.

NBA Playoff Update

NBA Playoff Update

There was a kind of spiritual unity in Mike D’Antoni’s mustache and Steve Nash’s bad hair.

Historically outflanked by the Lakers, with whom they share an arena, the Clippers have no true fan base and no real reason for existence, except to satisfy the unquenchable narcissism of Los Angeles, which needs all the teams.

Turf-guarding

Turf-guarding

The Democrats give the left the middle finger.

As is well known, Perez only became a candidate at the behest of Barack Obama, picked explicitly to scuttle Ellison’s otherwise smooth path to the chairmanship. This turned the contest into a referendum on how the party feels about the Sanders activists. Evidently it feels quite hostile.

Bright Lights

Bright Lights

Sanders in Philadelphia, Castro ad mortem

The death of Fidel Castro brought to a close an entire era, in which a single figure on a small Caribbean island could dictate whole arenas of American emotional life. Since the Cuban revolution in 1959, the United States has been obsessed not with Cuba, not with communism, but with Fidel.

What Are We Trying to Figure Out?

What Are We Trying to Figure Out?

How are mutely inexpressive votes—boxes ticked once every four years by a minority of the voting-age electorate—legible?

Until November 8th, it seemed clear that one thing was going to happen, and now another thing—the exact opposite—happened, and I can’t see how this doesn’t provoke a sense of chagrin and humility.

Can I Be Honest?

Can I Be Honest?

One of the things the Clinton Democrats lorded over the Sanders supporters was their superior and more committed chauvinism.

There were photos of children, and videos of parents speaking to children, and videos of children watching Trump, and videos of children speaking to Hillary: so many children that it began to resemble a 34-year-old’s Facebook feed.

The Turning of Backs

The Turning of Backs

Day Two of the Democratic National Convention

Suddenly Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential candidate, arrived at the tent, whether informed of or anticipating the walkout it was hard to say. She told the crowd that they weren’t walking out, they were walking in (to the Green Party!). This excited some delegates—who chanted “Jill, not Hill!”—and alienated many others, who did not appreciate her co-optation of this captive audience. Once it became clear that many of the delegates wanted to leave—either to return to the arena to see the Mothers of the Movement, or to join comrades in the adjoining Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, a meeting ground for protesters—a golf cart drove up out of nowhere, Stein stepped in, and the candidate was whisked away.