“When a man of 80 kilos is cremated, he becomes 2.5 kilos of ashes,” Rinaldo Willy explained. “With these ashes, we make a diamond of 0.2 grams, smaller than a button on your shirt. How heavy is the soul—if we have a soul?”
In its coupling of the tangible and intangible, it is a question that epitomizes Willy’s work. Every year, Algordanza, the company he founded in 2004, receives more than 800 urns filled with human ashes. For between $5,000 and $20,000, the contents of each parcel are transformed into a diamond.
It is also more than a diamond. “Maybe ‘soul’ is too strong of a word,” Willy continued, still struggling to define the essence of his product. “Our process is purely physical—but if the deceased had blue eyes, and the diamond turns out blue, you can be sure that the family will say, ‘Oh, it’s exactly the color of his eyes.’”
We were invited to participate in their self-delusions and to see through them, to marvel at the mask of masculine competence even as we watched it slip or turn ugly. Their deaths were and will be a culmination and a conclusion: Tony, Walter and Don are the last of the patriarchs.
This slow unwinding has been the work of generations. For the most part, it has been understood — rightly in my view, and this is not really an argument I want to have right now — as a narrative of progress. A society that was exclusive and repressive is now freer and more open. But there may be other less unequivocally happy consequences. It seems that, in doing away with patriarchal authority, we have also, perhaps unwittingly, killed off all the grown-ups.
It’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, which means the most stylish people in the world have descended upon Manhattan to see where the world top designers will be pushing fashion in 2015. But what defines New York City fashion in the 21st century? Whether you’re looking at the designer duds sold in Bergdorf Goodman, hipster street style or the bold fashion of the outer boroughs, you can see one woman’s stamp on almost everything a modern New York woman wears. That woman is Patricia Field.
ISBON — THE Western news media are in crisis and are turning their back on the world. We hardly ever notice. Where correspondents were once assigned to a place for years or months, reporters now handle 20 countries each. Bureaus are in hub cities, far from many of the countries they cover. And journalists are often lodged in expensive bungalows or five-star hotels. As the news has receded, so have our minds.
To the consumer, the news can seem authoritative. But the 24-hour news cycles we watch rarely give us the stories essential to understanding the major events of our time. The news machine, confused about its mandate, has faltered. Big stories are often missed. Huge swaths of the world are forgotten or shrouded in myth. The news both creates these myths and dispels them, in a pretense of providing us with truth.
I recently spoke Russian for multiple days for the first time in more than a decade. It did not go smoothly.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico—When Matt Block walks into Big Al & Redneck Steve’s Beer Bucket on 10th Street on a brilliant sunny Sunday afternoon with a tan and the tropics-approved outfit of a light polo, simple shorts, and low tops with no socks, he looks like the thousands of people who flock to the vacation paradise 45 minutes south of Cancun.
Except unlike the tourists hemorrhaging cash on watered-down margaritas and overpriced beach chairs, the New Yorker is here to work. On this Sunday, he makes $7,100 in a few hours sitting in front of his computer, playing online poker. He arrived a month ago and has no plans to leave anytime soon. Life is too good, cheap, and easy, with an endless string of women “actively looking to make bad decisions,” as he puts it.
The 28-year-old—“ancient for poker,” he says—is a new addition to the informal brotherhood of about 150 mostly young men, the majority American, who have flocked to this beach resort on the so-called Riviera Maya to make their fortunes at online poker, spending their spare time partying, hitting on women, and living large. Members of the loosely connected group span more than a dozen years in age and varying degrees of card-playing talent. Some bonds are tighter than others. People come and go, but together they make up what you could call the Poker Frat of Playa del Carmen.
The life sounds like a dream. And for the most part it is.