Beginner’s Guide to Brooklyn

By: Ali Benz

If you’re like me and you’ve been to Brooklyn twice, you’ve probably had the pleasure of riding the L train. It takes some getting used to, but you slowly learn that on the L all you have to do is grab on to the nearest man-bun for stability. Never fails and there’s always one around which is super rad. There are always different types waiting for your grip, but my favorite is the ginger-red double-knot for extra support and style.

Do I hate Brooklyn? No. But it’s def one of my least favorite boroughs. If you’re going to cross that bridge you need to be ready. Vans must be strapped, but just loose and distressed enough to give that “I don’t care and sometimes I take my longboard to my job in a WeWork space vibe.” Check your Manhattan privilege at the door. BK is all about the local brews. If it’s not on draft, don’t even bother. If you go to a coffee place in Bushwick, which probably doubles as a thrift-shop or a yarn store, do NOT mention Starbuck’s. Immediately order the nitro cold-brew, demand oat-milk for an extra ten dollars, and get out. Paper straws only!

Same rules apply to any hipster bar you visit. Get a local home-brewed craft IPA stat! If it was wintertime, I’d recommend chilling in your rattiest Carhartt beanie with a little hint of man-bun coming out so they know you’re not messing around. Since it’s summertime, I recommend a flat brim hat that looks like it’s almost falling off your head but really you’re just too chill and present to care. There are more important things, like the environment, duh. Pair it with a random, super underground band-tee to really seal the deal. Maybe one that says “Joy Division”—whatever the f*ck that is.

Once again, I’m not hating on Brooklyn. How could I not love a place where everyone’s vegan and owns an Android? This place is sustainable af. Where else could I play competitive corn hole while listening to my favorite techno set in a brewery that used to be a factory that used to be an infirmary? It’s a beautiful thing, really. It’s the only grounds where getting f*cked up on kombucha and running around barefoot is admired and not a “cry for help” like your therapist says. Tell your shrink to chill and have some mead, bro.

If you’re having trouble connecting with “Brooklynites”, just casually mention Burning Man. I’m positive that everyone in this borough is attending. However, whatever you do, do NOT mention Coachella. Coachella is mainstream. That’s a dead giveaway that you don’t compost and you eat meat. To find a happy medium, I suggest the Brooklyn Mirage: a place to go when you want to leave Manhattan to see a bunch of people from Manhattan, but with the luxury of a “Williamsburg” snapchat filter. Just don’t come crying to me when the paper straw melts in your gin & tonic. Tragic.

 

 

PSA: Failure Becomes Success

By: Ali Benz

Not sure if it’s because my mom signed me up for a 21-day meditation with Deepak Chopra or because I’ve been binge-watching The Bachelor, but I’m feeling extra positive today. Sit back while I spread some awareness. Hopefully this informational blog will help you follow your dreams or at least inspire you to do reality television. Welcome to my Ted Talk.

If you’re alive right now, congrats. You live in a world where everything you do is publicized and rated. Nothing is real. Some may say it’s a simulation. Some may also be on acid. The point is, this digital age is a blessing and a curse. Where it was once only possible to gain fame and fortune through talent and skill, it is now just as easy through failure and exposure. Not following? Allow me to explain:

The other night I was googling if I could ride in the HOV lane with my dog. You can’t. I did. Why? The Bachelor. I needed to get home in time for the finale. Tragic, but true. I don’t care about Colton or who he deflowers, etc. My excitement was strictly in seeing the girls that lost. Those are the real stars. The wild ones who will continue to shine through failure, absurdity, and sometimes nudity.  They’re set for life and we can’t get enough.

Do I think Chris Harrison is that inspirational? No, but it does go to show that it never hurts to put yourself out there. How does that stupid quote go? “Reach for the moon, even if you miss you land with stars” or some BS?  I used to think it was just some obnoxious banner in the classroom, but as I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve realized it’s really about reality TV. All those failed bachelorettes have landed stardom, and that’s what they were trying to teach us all those years in middle school. Thanks Mrs. B.

Still not buying it? How about Bar Rescue, ever heard of it? My dream has always been to open a bar (since about two weeks ago) and now I know that I can and I should. Here’s why: The business will most likely be a success because I’m a professional at alcohol. However, in the slight chance it fails, the world will do me one better. They will send in a screaming Jon Taffer and make me a celebrity overnight. It’s a win-win in my opinion. SHUT IT THE F*CK DOWN. Thanks Jon.

One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure, and one’s pain is another’s pleasure. I’ll be here all night. I’ve got sayings for days on my vision board. Remember, those who can do; and those who can’t, go viral.  Just make sure it’s always recorded and it’s always the most dramatic season ever.

Repeat this mantra:  If I do anything stupid in a Walmart, I will end up on Ellen.

If I do anything stupid in a Walmart, I will end up on Ellen.

If I do anything stupid in a Walmart, I will end up on Ellen.

 

Namaste.

You’re in Love with a Criminal

By: Ali Benz

People will believe anything these days. It’s too easy. I once told my younger cousin that Grindr was an app to order marijuana. He found out the hard way that this was very much not true. He’s still not talking to me, but Pierre, from West Village, is still trying to track him down and give him “something that will help him sleep”. Whoops.

Plain and simple: When something seems like it’s too good to be true, hate to break it to ya, but it probably isn’t. I’m not sure which was more disappointing—buying a ticket to Super Bowl LIII or Fyre Festival. At least one of them saves you the cringe of seeing Adam Levine do a striptease. If I wanted to see a scrawny, topless, Jewish boy rock-out to Maroon 5 I would’ve gone to my high school reunion.

What bugs me most about fraud like Fyre is the way the world responds. Sure, we get some hilarious memes and a chance to explain to the younger generation who the f*ck Ja Rule is, but the backlash never outweighs the opportunities. Billy McFarland, the psycho who created the “festival”, is still living his best life. Homie received hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in interviews for documentaries, the media, etc. Last time I got caught doing something wrong, my boss gave me ten bucks and a gift card to Red Robin to keep my mouth SHUT. Meanwhile, this evil genius is STILL stacking his bank account. Why? Because our society is obsessed with criminals.

Let’s look at ‘The Ted Bundy Tapes’. Why are every sociopath and their mother drooling over these documentaries? My best friend has been referring to “Ted” on a first-name basis as if she knows the guy. To make matters worse, some perv decided to cast sweet angel Zac Efron as Bundy in the movie! How dare you cross-contaminate Troy Bolton with a necrophile? The only thing Zac is guilty of is murdering the iconic choreo of Kenny Ortega (refer to HSM 1-3).

We need to stop romanticizing criminals and start glorifying heroes—like Kirpa from the Bachelor. Home-girl literally ran on wet rocks so she could get injured and finally be interesting enough for some airtime. She and Colton have probably never actually met, but I’m Team Skirrp all the way. #Kirpa2020

It’s about time the media stop throwing money at delinquents. Did I fall in love with the ‘Hot Felon’ in 2014? Absolutely. Do I think Zac Efron looks hot AF as a murderer? You’re not wrong. It’s not my fault though. If Jeremy Meeks’ baby blue-eyed mugshot didn’t get more publicity than the ‘Walmart Yodeling Kid’, I probably would have had no idea who that handsome Crip was.

The jokes on us. We are the ones who keep these maniacs in business, desperate to lay eyes on the next villain. Why are we like this? I’m not sure. Maybe we get a thrill from seeing vicious acts played out, knowing we are all capable physically, but not mentally. Tuning in may give you that adrenaline rush of a roller-coaster, or hitting 10,000 steps on your Fitbit if you’re a suburban mom, but watch at your own risk. Remember, somewhere someplace there’s a serial killer spinning on his Peloton, AirPods in, looking down at you, laughing from a Penthouse apartment filled with human body parts and Dom Perignon. Tragic.

Sexy Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By: Ali Benz

Halloween is amazing. The costumes get crazier and more confusing every year. For example, last night, I met a black man wearing a sweet George Washington costume. Naturally, I asked him if he was George Washington Carver. He said, “No! I’m Ric Flair (b*tch)!” Then I jumped off a bridge. Just kidding. I’m not racist, just an idiot. I’m not even sure who GW-Carver is but I’m sure he’s a lovely guy. We then preceded to get a ~ spooky ~ drink together and he followed me on Instagram and I’m buying his mixtape. All’s well that ends well!

I just love how it’s socially acceptable to dress up like an idiot, consume your weight in chocolate, and black-out on a Wednesday all because of this random holiday. I mean, to me, that’s just another day in the life, but it’s great to see the community getting involved.

I’ve never actually planned a Halloween costume. I have no idea how you psychopaths do that. My method is to throw on all black (shocker), douse myself in paint, find the nearest headgear, and call it a day. Then, you go out and whenever someone asks who you are, you obnoxiously say “What does it look like I am?” However they respond is now what you are. Basically, that’s how you become a skeleton, pirate, cannibal, and sexy pumpkin all in one night. That’s just showbiz, baby.

Lucky for me, my Italian hair-dresser saved the day. She legit stuffed one of her black smocks (smock is a weird word) into my bag and said: “Here, have a cape.” Sexy witch, here I come. Stylist Deb doing G-d’s work—I love it. Clearly, her selfless act did not go unnoticed. I caught the attention of a guy dressed as a sexy cop. He asked for my full name, address, birthday—and then I realized he was indeed not in costume at all and I was indeed receiving a fat fine for public intoxication. Stupid hot narc.

Bottom line, Halloween is the best holiday of the year. A bunch of weirdos running around half-naked or covered in blood—you never know what you’re going to get. Also, holiday-hack: if you’re a girl in your twenties and put on a mask and channel the voice of a small boy, you will never have to stop trick-or-treating. I don’t do that, I just heard one of my friends did it. And I was there. Don’t judge me. I have no idea where else to get 100 Grand bars without knocking on a stranger’s door disguised as a ninja turtle. Gender roles, am I right?

Super depressing that it’s over, but at least it’s about to get worse. All your slutty pics are about to surface and literally ruin your life. Bad weekend to be a school teacher. The best is coming into the office after all your ~ spooky ~ activities. All the Karens and Toms ask you what you did and you tell them “nothing special,” as if three hours ago you weren’t funneling handles of Fireball dressed as a sexy Ruth Bader Ginsburg and vomiting into a pumpkin. Life experiences are everything. Happy Halloween!

Advanced Guide to Resume Building and Job Applications

By: Ali Benz

If you don’t have ‘Proficient in Excel’ on your resume, did you ever even create a resume? Just because you made that mailing list for your step-sister’s Quinceañera, doesn’t mean you’re an Excel pro, but you better believe it’s on my list of skills, right next to ‘Works well with others’. Doubt it.

Applications are just too confusing these days. I love how, in a desperate attempt to appear less prejudiced, forms will put ‘White’ as one of the second to last options. This is cute and all but I can literally never find it. Sometimes, for the sake of time, I just circle a random race so I’m not late to the interview. It was only awkward that time I chose Pacific Islander because I thought it sounded like a cocktail at Red Lobster.

The questions just get harder and harder. Do you ever get hit with the ‘Hispanic or Non-Hispanic’? It might as well say can you dance or not. I always feel a little offended by this one. They’re basically asking if you’re exotic or a basic b*tch. Not slick. Also, I never really know how to answer this super personal inquiry. In my heart, I do feel a little Hispanic—I did spend that one summer in Punta Cana and I might have dated a Salvadorian—but the question isn’t clear as to what qualifies. My advice is to just leave that one blank. First amendment type sh*t. #KnowYourRights.

It seems I’m not the first one to be confused by an application. Senator Elizabeth Warren was clearly a bit rattled when applying to Harvard. Maybe she wasn’t sure to what extent Native American they meant—just like I’m still confused if I could be considered Latina. Then again, I was just trying to get into Costco, not an Ivy League school. What she did was probably wrong, but I bet she would’ve been accepted even as a Pacific Islander. You can’t always just name-drop Pocahontas and get the job. Sometimes, you have to actually meet the requirements. For example, Jamie Lee Curtis is my fourth cousin and I still didn’t get the part in Freaky Friday. Lindsay Lohan is just a better actor, dancer, activist and—this is how you throw a party in Mykonos, b*tch.

Anyway, I’m not sure how much you should exaggerate on a school/job application. Maybe just enough? Like, if your idea of fluent in Spanish entails watching Narcos without the subtitles, then, by all means, throw it on the res. Just don’t apply to any positions that specify bilingual as a requirement. That’s a bigger let down than a Starbucks in a Target. No one wants a caramel macchiato from the place that sells tube-socks in bulk. Know your audience.

Race and name may influence some outcomes, but with all these ancestry tests who even knows what’s real. I’m surprised they don’t require you to attach your results to the common-app. Had there been a 23andMe kit back then, I would’ve checked off way more race/ethnicity boxes and really expanded my horizons. White girl from Connecticut just never had that “wow” factor. Luckily, my grandma forbids this testing because “why would we just hand our DNA over to the government?” Once again, I do not know what secret opps she’s running out of Boca Raton, Florida, but I continue to respect the hustle.

It’s no secret that everyone exaggerates a little to get a foot in the door. Just look at Paris Hilton. She managed to convince the whole island of Ibiza that she was a DJ, when really, she had spent the past ten years blacking out at Ultra Musical Festival and occasionally dancing near one of the Chainsmokers. All you can do is work hard to surpass the lies that are your resume. Get that job you are completely unqualified for, then become so great that you don’t need a last name, like Dunkin’ Donuts. Did they really change their name to just Dunkin’? Who do they think they are? Cher?

Hopefully, this helps you land your dream job. Takeaways from this post: always lie just enough to get inside, subtle brag that Jamie Lee Curtis is my fourth cousin, don’t rely on DNA testing. Anything is possible. I’ve received opportunities way out of my league, and I thought Big Pharma was the name of a rapper. Tragic.

 

Taylor Swift is Kind of a Big Deal

By: Ali Benz

There is no tougher security in the world than the ladies of the JCC front desk. I have literally snuck into clubs by telling bouncers I was already inside, but these women at the J are relentless. I could’ve known some of them since birth and they still wouldn’t let me in without ID. I’d have a better chance sneaking a guy into 1Oak by saying he’s my gay cousin.

Men are so quick to shame women of power because they’re intimidated. They troll them for being unladylike when they are fierce, brilliant, and courageous. No matter the position, women need to continue to stand their ground and fight, not letting misogynistic labels fear us into weakness. That’s why Irene at the Jewish Community Center is my hero, no matter how many times she kicks me out. Apparently, you need an actual membership, not proof of Bat-Mitzvah.

Whether you’re a female CEO, athlete, drug-dealer, whatever; you deserve equal rights. Growing up in a family of therapists was a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because I was able to learn empathy. My siblings and I were encouraged to pursue our dreams, regardless of gender barriers—though I do wish someone stopped me from wearing basketball jerseys in every school picture. It was a curse because I was constantly being analyzed. If I was crying, my mom would always hit me with the “what’s this really about” line. I’d think I was crying because I fell off my pogo-stick again, but she’d help me realize I was acting out because I carry the burden of my great-grandfather who suffered through The Depression or something. I love therapy.

I am blessed to have my mom as a role model. She went back to school to get her psychology degree while we were growing up. In a time and place where she was expected to be a stay-at-home mom, my mother decided to get her Masters and begin a fulfilling career (not that raising me wasn’t fulfilling enough). It’s amazing to see more and more women become entrepreneurs and embody positions of power. However, we still need a steady number of housewives so that we don’t lose Bravo.

Seeing the way my mom runs her business and has evolved into a highly-respected psychologist has been incredible—especially because I have the best therapists in the city at my fingertips. I only wish she’d gone into a slightly less holistic field. I can’t tell you how many rocks and shells I’ve received as gifts that have a “spiritual meaning.” I appreciate the effort Cheryl, but I’d rather have a scarf, not this stone from your Healing Garden.

Regardless of current political outcomes, women cannot back down and need to be heard. Don’t let insecure, frat boys scare you from sharing your truth. Who knew Taylor Swift was capable of more than making us cringe at award shows? Ever since T-Swizzle got candid about her opposition to sexist candidates, voting registration rose by 65,000—ironically the same value of assets Bart O’Kavanaugh claims to have. Taylor Swift, a female, has a net worth of $280 million. Just saying.

Unfortunately, Trump is now only 75% a Swiftie, so I doubt he’ll be attending her Reputation Tour. Maybe he can use that time to hit happy hour with the Pope. They can discuss how much they love rape but hate abortion. Always nice to find common ground with a new friend. Tragic.