That's not chaos, that's progress

The week in work: bad news for monocle futures, bad news for Adam Sandler, bad news for pizza anecdotes, and bad news for animal enclosures.

The bad news is that this means more of us fighting to be the Thimble, fewer who think they’re the Top Hat

15% of Americans now self-identify as members of the “lower class” — a remarkable increase from just 3% at the turn of the century, according to the latest data from a multi-year survey by Gallup. The share of people who think they’re “middle class” is falling, and for the first time, the number of people identifying as working & lower class almost surpasses the number indentying as upper-middle & middle class.

While the data does show a deliciously appropriate 1% of the population says they're upper class, self-reported class identities have never been a direct reflection of economic realities — in 2002, when 6% of people said they were lower class, 12% of the population had incomes that left them below the Federal poverty line that year. Still, there’s clearly something important going on here, as perceptions and identies begin to catch up with the extraordinary levels of inequality in our society.

If Vanilla Ice takes your side in a debate over cultural appropriation…

Sometimes it’s the people who do the most denigrated kinds of work who have the most power to flip the script — sometimes simply by reasserting their own dignity. That’s what happened when Native American actors walked off the set of an Adam Sandler Western “comedy,” flat-out refusing to participate in yet another offensive Hollywood portrayal of Indians. “If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave,” a senior member of the production team told them when first they brought their concerns forward. And so they did.

Twitter erupted with the hashtag #notyourHollywoodIndian. And at the head of the calvary riding to Sandler’s defense… is Vanilla Ice, who apparently claims to have vague Native ancestry, though he spelled the name of his purported tribe incorrectly. (And if all this discussion of Adam Sandler leaves you parched for humor, check out Sherman Alexie sometime.)

What if Z problem is Z Pizza?

A single outlet of the California-based international Z Pizza chain announced this week that it was closing, and the store owner said Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law was to blame… even though the first raises have only been in effect for a month. The right-wing blogosphere of course latched on to the story, claiming it as proof that Seattle was about to become the new Detroit, an economic black hole from which no commerce can escape.

It all looks pretty different in the world of reality. Seattle is the fastest-growing large city in the country, unemployment is about 4%, and the neighborhood where this particular pizza joint was located is growing especially fast, with 29 restaurant openings slated for this year. In the city as a whole, there are about 30 more food businesses licensed now than just a month ago, but despite all this, it can still be next-to-impossible to change a storyline with data alone. But there’s an anecdotal antidote too: in just the past week, 14 different pizza places in Seattle posted job listings on craigslist

Gawk on the wild side

A lion escaped its enclosure at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, taking advantage of zookeepers distracted by a controversial move of elephants to Oklahoma City. In what may or may not have been coordinated activity, a tiger squeezed out of its cage at Oklahoma City Zoo at about the same time. Note that Adam Sandler produced the movie Zookeeper.

Fifteen buffalo escaped a New York farm and swam across the Hudson River to freedom, they were executed by hired killers in an ugly scene that authorities said was “turning into the Wild, Wild West.” It’s not been established whether or not Adam Sandler has an alibi.

And when some jerk gave the finger to a monkey in Shimla for no apparent reason, the monkey drop-kicked him in the style of a professional wrestler. Hopefully someone tries to cast the monkey in the next Adam Sandler movie.