Lifestyle & Social Commentary

Natasha has spent most of her career writing and editing unbiased breaking news and analysis, but her recent years as a freelancer have enabled her to indulge in writing more about her passions and opinions. Here’s a broad selection of articles that represent various themes and topics that compelled her to share with a broader audience.

The Surprisingly Queer-Friendly World Of Finance (The Billfold)

“American Psycho, The Musical” opened on Broadway in March 2016. Twenty-four years after Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho hit brick-and-mortar bookstores, readers are still wrestling with one big question: was narcissistic yuppie Bateman — flawlessly portrayed by Christian Bale in the 2000 film — really committing the obscene and grisly murders he describes, or is at all just hallucinatory fantasy? The hyper-masculine Bateman indulges in graphic sex with his women victims before he kills them. The book also is laced with homoeroticism. Bateman and his fashionable friends frequent gay bars and allude to raunchy homosexual acts. In the end, though, Bateman is a quintessential heterosexual. His character appeals to the seemingly endless array of women who once lusted after the now-imaginary star 1980s Wall Street banker and made serial killing seemingly easy sport. (Read Full Article)

Dear Mom, Your Child’s Better Off If You Go To Work (The Billfold)

Hey stay-at-home moms and dads, maybe I‘ve made the stronger choice for my son’s long-term success by cobbling together contract jobs and awkwardly juggling life and work. But don’t take my grumpy word for it. New global research in a working paper by Kathleen L. McGinn and Mayra Ruiz Castro of Harvard Business School, and Elizabeth Long Lingo of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, shows that working moms are setting a better example for their sons and daughters and paving a stronger foundation for the future. (Read Full Article)

The “Lazarus” Effect: What We Pay for Artists’ Work After We Love & Lose Them (The Billfold)

Full confessional disclaimer: I am an unapologetic David Bowie worshipper. My mantra to fill the gaping hole of Bowie’s death is borrowed from Bowie influencer Bertolt Brecht: “Don’t be afraid of death so much as an inadequate life.” But even I have learned that it’s not worth going broke to demonstrate my devotion. I’ve found some solace in the global group mourning that manifests on Facebook feeds and tributes, small and massive, across the world. And thanks to the diligence and devotion of my playwright husband Mike, I saw the spectacularly strange “Lazarus” at New York Theatre Workshop five days after Bowie died. Mike gifted me tickets as a Christmas present, not knowing how profound and enduring an experience it would become in the wake of massive and shocking loss. (Read Full Article)

“Weekend Of A Champion”: Roman Polanski’s Elegant Bromance (The Awl)

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars had long been the only documentary from my infancy that I can imagine watching over and over again, or even at all. I like my early 70s laced with enigma, androgyny and ambiguity and tightly packaged in flamboyant space frocks. The thought of a non-fictional account of the Monaco Grand Prix shot two months after I was born hardly registers a yawn. I don’t give a lick about the leisure class in couture leisure suits slurping vintage champagne and snorting copious amounts of coke as tiny cars whirl around in a circle spewing bravado in a contest of testosterone on overdrive. Sure, there’s the sex and drugs that permeates both worlds, but only Roman Polanski can infuse Formula 1 with the same ferocity as a rock ’n’ roll suicide and reveal the dark beauty in what’s become a mainstream spectator sport. (Read Full Article) 

Websites offer entry into once-exclusive world of sample sales (AP)

Helen Swerko-Steinberg can’t find designer deals like a Victor Costa evening gown at cost in Cape Coral, Fla. So she makes regular trips to New York sample sales in search of high fashion at low prices. Swerko-Steinberg brings her daughter, Caitlin, along to scour the sales. The two were in New York to do their Christmas shopping recently, and spent a day at the sales where designers sell garments and accessories that never made it to the stores. At a Triple 5 Soul sale, Caitlin walked out with trendy jeans, skirts and T-shirts for her friends. At a sale, she found a blue lace dress and a cashmere sweater for herself. “I am trying to teach Caitlin to buy better fabrics and quality construction instead of fads,” said Swerko-Steinberg, who was a department store buyer in New York from 1976-84. (Read Full Article)

Blackout Brings Out Brighter, Lighter Side Of Life In The Dark (AP)

It wasn’t all chaos and angst across the nation’s great powerless swath, as thousands of people took a break from life’s hectic pace and paused to enjoy the lighter side of darkness. In New York City, from Greenwich Village to midtown, a festival spirit filled the air. Along 6th Avenue, people packed the sidewalks and spilled into the street. Candle-toting crowds gathered around street musicians, joining in song and swaying to the sounds. A police officer outside Port Authority bus terminal directed traffic with a maestro’s moves, saying “Thanks very much for waiting, I appreciate it,” to brazen jaywalkers and then mouthing exaggerated obscenities to the giggling crowds waiting patiently for their turn. (Read Full Article)

Group cycling classes gaining in popularity across the nation (AP)

At first glance, it looks merely like a fitness class of stationary cyclists. On closer look, maybe an extreme cycling class.
Group fitness instructor Carl Hall taunts the intense, sweaty riders in the dimly lit room amid blaring music: “I’ve seen you work harder than that. Push it! Burn those calories,” Hall goads, crouching over a dripping-wet cyclist. “Think G-string! Summer! G-string! Summer!” In some gyms it’s simply called “group cycling,” in others it’s “Spinning.” These high-intensity workouts to music simulate a challenging bike ride, complete with hills, valleys and varying speeds, all dictated by the group instructor. (Read Full Article)

Buff Yoga bends boundaries of traditional yoga and sculpt classes (AP)

Balancing on one leg with his upper body and opposite leg parallel to the floor, dumbbells in each hand, Bryan West instructs his class to extend straight arms forward and then row back with bent elbows to strengthen the upper back. Challenging more than multiple muscles, Buff Yoga turns traditional practice on its head. Ooom meets oomph, and there’s plenty of grunting as newcomers tough it through a rigorous series of abdominal exercises even before anyone lifts a weight. “I’m not trying to create another style of yoga with this class, like Jivamukti, Iyengar or Bikram. Buff Yoga is a fitness class that combines yoga and strength training,” said West, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. (Read Full Article)