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The Box and the Basement

Nathan Rabin | Longreads | June 9, 2015 | 1,900 words

Nathan Rabin writes about being laid off from a high-profile media job and making the difficult decision to sell his home and move into his in-laws’ basement with his wife and son.

Posted inNonfiction, Story

The Box and the Basement

“On the last day of my old job, I stumbled out the door, holding aloft that iconic emblem of termination: The Box. Though from the outside it might look wholly indistinct, we who have felt its symbolic weight know this is no ordinary box; this is a box that can make grown men cry.”
Illustration by Kjell Reigstad

Nathan Rabin | Longreads | June 2015 | 8 minutes (1,900 words)

“Working in the media in 2015 is like being part of an epic game of Musical chairs. Every day the music starts and you race madly to hold onto your fragile place in the world.”

I published that in a Facebook post after being let go from my latest employer, comparing working in pop culture media in 2015 to participating in an insane daily game of musical chairs. You try your best to keep up, to maintain the heat, the buzz, and the pageviews to stay in a game that has a disconcerting obsession with putting aging writers out to pasture to make way for younger, cheaper, more malleable replacements.

Every time you see that one of your film critic colleagues has been let go or taking a buyout (see: Lisa Schwarzbaum, who was at Entertainment Weekly for 22 years before taking a buyout, or Claudia Puig who took a USA Today buyout after reviewing films there for 15 years), you breathe a nervous sigh of relief. For that day, at least, you are safe.

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