“The Man Who Opted In”
by L.V. Torio
I am the man who opted in. If I did it once, I’ve done it a thousand times, and I’ll do it again the next time I can, and the time after that. Yes, I would like to receive your monthly newsletter. Yes, you can use my personal information for analytical purposes. I am aware, vaguely, of the pitfalls of acquiescence and yet I freely acquiesce, a thousand and one times and counting. Yes, you can push ads onto my pages and insert branded content into my feeds. What’s a feed without branded content, anyway? My feeds are not that exciting.
Here are other things you can do: You can call me if you would like my opinion on your product. You can (and do!) record my phone conversations with your customer service personnel. (Incidentally, regarding our interaction on February 13, no, Alison did not solve my problem, but she had a nice, friendly voice and her script, such as it was, was serviceable.) Are you offering me a place in the Frequent Buyers’ Club, the Green Carpet Alliance, the Ambassador’s Circle? Of course you make it sound much more elite and special than it is. Nevertheless, I accept.
I understand fully – in the abstract sort of way that non-technical people comprehend modern life – that you’ll be tracking my click-stream and that you’ll be finding a way to monetize it on your behalf. I understand that I will be subject to upsells and intrusions, targeted marketing and creepy violations of my privacy, if not my personal space. So be it.
Let it not be said that I am not a person of this world. With citizenship comes sacrifice. This is mine. Let’s face it, I am not giving up life or limb, the way some do. My courage is on the order of a man who would punch a bully to protect a woman, but not a hero who would lurch in front of an assassin’s bullet to save a Governor.
We all evolve, as men and heroes, as opters out and in. There is a directionality to these things, is there not? When I expose my buying patterns to your algorithms, I feel in line with the arc of time’s arrow, even though it might pierce me. I may be a fool, it is true. But tomorrow we will all be something different than what we are today and the paths we take will depend greatly upon the options available to us. There is great comfort in knowing that I will have many.
By Carolyn Smuts and Steve Loring
Four Seasons, Westlake Village, California (FIVE STARS)
Oh. Em. Gee. My boyfriend and I stayed at this hotel last weekend and I am blown away. Super classy! The lobby was GORGEOUS and the staff was so helpful; Gabe booked our massage appointments at check in and I’m not going to lie, his French-Canadian accent was kind of exotic in a not-from-Sylmar kind of way.
The room was gorgeous with marble everywhere and, HELLO! L’Occitane bath products? Yes, thank you! The sheets were very high thread count and I slept like a baby (when we were wanting to sleep, that is. )
There was no in-room coffee but we ordered a massive pot of Starbucks from room service which was a great way to kick off a day of massages and champagne-sipping by the pool.
The bottom line is I’d come back to the Four Seasons over and over given the opportunity; it oozes luxury and romance!
Sheraton Hotel, Agoura Hills, California (THREE STARS)
Beverly Hills, California
This place was great for a little getaway. The job’s been a bit stressful of late, so I was relieved to find the spa and gym open 24 hours. I was a little worried about the Jag being out and exposed to the elements, but the night air was mild and warm, so no harm done.
My girlfriend loved the kitchenette, although she set the fire alarm off making us some gouda grilled cheeses. The front desk called and immediately understood what happened. They were very cordial and professional about the culinary faux pas.
The beds were comfortable and the place was everything one might expect from a hotel of this stature.
We particularly enjoyed the quaint hotel bar, where the bartenderess regaled us with her humor and generous pours.
Overall, I recommend the Sheraton to anyone looking for an idyllic weekender that won’t break the proverbial bank.
Seabreeze Inn, Ventura, California (TWO STARS)
Do not stay here. Ever. I stayed at this dump last weekend and I still feel like I need a bath.
I guess one reason I feel dirty is the shower at the Seabreeze was less than satisfying. I was able to look past the single stream of water but I drew the line at the already-open soap with a hair stuck to it; not to be confused with the single pube on the scratchy, paper-thin bed sheets—that was a different hair. Granted, they could both have come from my cheapskate boyfriend’s back, but I really think they were deposited before we arrived. Gross. I could barely sleep in that fleabag bed, let alone do anything else.
Speaking of check-in, Scott, the night manager, was so judgmental and rude…I think; he was hard to hear because the thick Plexiglas window he sat behind muffled his words. Before he handed over the room keys, he asked both of us for ID, then he asked why our last names were different. Ugh. Another reason to feel dirty.
The décor was cutting-edge…for 1962. Not surprisingly, the stains on the bedspread were about that old, too. It seemed an appropriate place to sit and sip my warm gas station Coors Light. Nope, no fridge in which to chill your cheap booze at ol’ Seabreeze.
There was in-room coffee, but it was instant and it had hardened into a single cake within the package. The fact that I had to mix it with warm tap water made me sad, but not as sad as the “Free Breakfast” they bragged about. The spread consisted of stale Froot Loops and cold bagels with no toaster in sight.
Had my boyfriend shelled out 15 bucks more, we could have stayed at a place that did not boast “parking” as an amenity. I am too old for this crap and I’d rather split the cost of a decent hotel room. Don’t stay here, it’s depressing.
Prague Inn, Canoga Park, California (ONE STAR)
Beverly Hills, California
I really don’t want this review to be influenced by the shambles that my love life has become, but GODDAMN, this place was heinous. The girlfriend of 6 months took one look at the place and split. I’m not sure she’s coming back.
In her defense, the place did very much smell like dog. But, it was all I could afford. I took a significant pay cut last month and counted myself lucky I could have a weekend away at all.
I’m pretty sure the guy next door was a meth dealer – no, scratch that – I’m certain he was because he asked me if I wanted to buy some meth.
And whether the graffiti on the bathroom wall was a long lost Jackson Pollock mural is still definitely up for debate. I got a D+ in Art History at Harvard, so what the hell do I know?
I did have an interesting conversation with the homeless Santa Claus lookalike sitting outside my room, though. Apparently, Rudolph is coming back, and he is livid. Something about Vixen having a three-way with Prancer and Dancer and not being invited to watch.
Would I stay here again? No. Never. I’d rather be homeless.
Prague Inn Manager
Sir, I am so sorry your stay at the Prague Inn was not satisfactory. I assure you we try our utmost to make each of our guests comfortable, whether they are normal folk or uptight, displaced trust fund babies such as yourself.
In short, sir, fuck off.
As far as the “mural” you say was strewn on your bathroom wall, I can only say that I’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street and you fit the profile. This is why candles aren’t included in our rooms, you sick bastard.
So again, please fuck off.