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How Box Tops for Education Lost Its Way

How Box Tops for Education Lost Its WayFor many young adults and their parents, the words box tops evoke fond memories of cutting out cardboard rectangles and stuffing them into Ziploc bags to carry to school. The Box Tops for Education program, founded in 1996, is a General Mills initiative that allows families to redeem labels from eligible food and household products for 10-cent contributions to their schools. Over the past 25 years, the program has given nearly $1 billion to schools nationwide. But the clippings are rapidly becoming symbols of a bygone era, as General Mills announced in 2019 that it would be retiring physical Box Tops in favor of an app.Many think of the program as a feel-good way for a company to help families support their schools. But the economics of Box Tops has always involved trade-offs. To earn a 10-cent donation, families would need to buy,…


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The Many Lives of Grandmaster Jay

The Many Lives of Grandmaster JayPhotographs by Mark Peterson / ReduxWhen Grandmaster Jay walked into Million’s Crab, a seafood joint in suburban Cincinnati, the waitstaff looked alarmed. Million’s Crab is a family restaurant, and on that placid November evening, Jay—the supreme commander of the Not Fucking Around Coalition—was wearing body armor rated to take a pistol round directly to the chest. Dressed from mask to shoes in black, he was four hours late to our meeting, and remorseless. “My time is scarce,” he said, making aggressive eye contact. Indeed, of the two of us, I was the one who felt sheepish, not because I was wasting his time but because it occurred to me that while I waited, I could have warned the servers that my dining companion was often armed and that he might look as if he had just stepped out of The Matrix. He sat across from…


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End Meeting for All

End Meeting for AllPhotographs by Thomas Dworzak Zoom, for most of us, arrived last year. And didn’t it feel right on time? Eerily on the button. As if the nine-foot locusts that run the universe, in a spasm of insect whimsy, had given us simultaneously a deadly, denormalizing virus and a new medium of human communication in which to freak out about it.  Not a flawless medium, by any means. Zoom drained and flattened. It boxed and confined. It got stuck, freezing beloved or not-so-beloved faces into a rictus of electro-smear. Some people got headaches from all the weird shouty talking. From all the nostrilly loomings. From all the being looked at. From all the looking at yourself, because Zoom also involved you, the user, in a kind of reptile staredown with your own Zoom image. (Only once I’d discovered the “Hide Self-View” feature, a month or so into the…


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