Google+

Logging into the blogging culture – Oherald (blog)


Oherald (blog)

Logging into the blogging culture
Oherald (blog)
And while it can be said that the blogging 'culture' exploded about half a decade ago in the Indian metros, Goa has finally woken up to this phenomenon and the rising number of bloggers is a testament to this. While the top bloggers in India across

Continue reading

He Let Kids On The Beach Play With His Pet…Which Turned Out To Be A Crocodile

When we hear about crazy and dangerous things happening in Russia nowadays, not much surprises us anymore. However, what one man let children pet is still pretty shocking.

In the town of Anapa, beach goers were delighted when a man took his pet into the water and allowed them to touch the animal. The only problem? Well, said pet was a six-foot crocodile on a leash, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone there one bit.

The man, a local photographer, was arrested after police saw the footage below on social media. He’d apparently been using the creature to make money.

The crocodile, which the man had been cruelly keeping in a tiny aquarium in his home, has since been removed and taken to a zoo in Novorossiysk. Share if you can’t believe people were so willing and unafraid to touch it!

Continue reading

Africa travel blogger: South Africans 'are spoiled, mostly ungrateful' compared to other Africans – News24


News24

Africa travel blogger: South Africans 'are spoiled, mostly ungrateful' compared to other Africans
News24
Cape Town – South Africa's Katchie Nzama has travelled to so many countries across the African continent. News24's Africa editor Betha Madhomu speaks to her about her experiences and future plans. When and how did the idea of travelling around Africa

Continue reading

Where have the Cowboys improved since Dez Bryant caught it at Lambeau Field? – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

Where have the Cowboys improved since Dez Bryant caught it at Lambeau Field?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Thursday marked an anniversary of sorts for Dallas Cowboys fans, that is, assuming you associate the word “anniversary” with a terrible event you wish never happened. January 11th, 2018 served as the three-year anniversary of when Dez Bryant, in all

Continue reading

With SoundCloud Go, SoundCloud is angling for a business model

SoundCloud Go is here, Australia.
Image: Ole Spata/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

There’s another digital horse in Australia’s online music subscription race.

On Thursday, SoundCloud Go launched in Australia and New Zealand where it will face off against market incumbents like Spotify and Apple Music.

For A$11.99 or NZ$12.99 a month, users will get access to more than 135 million tracks. Like its rivals, SoundCloud Go offers offline, ad-free listening and a free trial period.

SoundCloud’s free service, long beloved by independent and emerging musicians, will now also be supported by ads and promoted profiles. The company is building a local sales team to manage Australian ad sales.

Already up and running in the U.S., the UK, Ireland and France, the new SoundCloud subscription service can be seen as an attempt by the company to find some kind of business model to satisfy the big end of town, without annoying fans.

Launched in 2008, the platform gained a reputation for being user-generated and artist-friendly, and did little to make money of its user base besides minimal ads. The “YouTube for Music” had become the target of legal action in recent years, however, thanks to hosting a fair portion of copyrighted music uploaded by users.

CEO of SoundCloud Alexander Ljung speaks during the Digital Life Design conference in Germany.

Image: Getty Images

Shortly before it launched SoundCloud Go in the U.S. in March, the company signed a major agreement with Sony Music. The studio had yanked the catalogues of artists like Adele and Miguel from the platform in mid-2015 amid a breakdown in negotiations on its way to a subscription deal.

According to Billboard at the time, the collapse had something to do with “a lack of monetization opportunities” on the platform. Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group had previously signed up.

With SoundCloud Go, the company can now presumably pay per stream like Spotify. And on the free version, “Each time an ad is heard on SoundCloud, an artist will get paid,” according to Sonia Flynn, SoundClouds Vice President of International. That should make the studios happy.

In a nod to the ongoing controversy about how little Spotify, Apple Music and the like pay artists per stream, Alexander Ljung, SoundCloud cofounder and CEO, said in a statement creators were “at the centre of everything we do.”

“The launch of SoundCloud Go and the introduction of ads to the free service enables us to continue to build the most progressive artist remuneration system in the world,” he added. “While offering listeners everything from emerging creators, new tracks from indies, global hits as well as hits in the making, all in one place.”

The company declined to provide further information to Mashable, saying it does not disclose specifics on the deals it has in place with the record labels or around artist payments.

Since anyone can upload songs to SoundCloud, it has an army of fans who love the depth of music discovery it allows. But for free. Whether its subscription play works out remains to be seen.

Continue reading

Why governments should protect us from barely-taxed tech monopolies

The health of our democracy demands that we consider treating Facebook, Google, and Amazon with the same firm hand that led government to wage war on major monopolies

In our day, we can’t quite see anything wrong with monopoly. We’re certain that our tech giants achieved their dominance fairly and squarely through the free market, by dint of technical genius.

To conjure this image of meritocratic triumph requires overlooking several pungent truths about the nature of these new monopolies. Their dominance is less than pure.

They owe their dominance to innovation, but also to tax avoidance.

Of course, every big American corporation tries to limit the tax bill. Armies of accountants are a staple of capitalism; the manufacture of new deductions is one of our country’s greatest showcases of innovation. But the tech companies are especially slippery with the tax man. They have hatched schemes that their competitors – brick-and mortar firms, media companies – couldn’t dare attempt.

When Jeff Bezos first conceived of Amazon, he originally wanted to locate the company on a California Indian reservation, where it would pay hardly any tax. Authorities rejected that gambit. But Bezos understood that internet commerce challenged traditional ideas about taxation. Thanks to a court ruling, rendered just as he launched his company, Amazon could get away without paying sales tax to the states to which it shipped its goods.

Google has the same sort of unpatriotic accounting schemes. Google has also shifted assets to Bermuda, that famous mecca of high tech. By the end of 2015, it had “permanently reinvested” $58.3bn of its profits in foreign tax havens, earnings on which it pays no US tax.

The tech companies maintain every shred of data, yet seem to want to purge every bit of taxable earnings. The year Facebook went public, it recorded $1.1bn in American profits, but didn’t pay a cent of federal or state income tax. Indeed, it earned a $429m refund. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Facebook bilked the treasury by taking a single deduction: it wrote off the stock options it gave to its executives.

These companies can afford to push the limits of acceptable behavior, because they have paid such care and attention to Washington. While the tech companies are hardly the image of corpulent K Street, they have built massive lobbying operations that pace the halls of the regulatory agencies and Congress, stacked with skillful hacks.

Google executives set foot in the Obama White House more often than those of any other corporation – its head lobbyist visited 128 times. Google spread its money across Washington with joyous ecumenicism. Google spent about $17m on influence peddlers of both partisan varietals. By one count, Google poured more into its DC apparatus than any other public company. An investigation by The Intercept concluded: “Google has achieved a kind of vertical integration with the government.” Somehow Google managed to overcome the recommendation of staffers on the Federal Trade Commission who found Google’s monopolistic machinations worthy of a lawsuit.

Lobbyists for the companies have preserved a blissful state of barely regulated, barely taxed monopoly. They have played the politics brilliantly. Obama spent his presidency cheering on the tech companies, even pleading with the Europeans not to collect the taxes owed to them. In return, the tech companies have sent their best brains to work for the Democratic administration and its political campaigns.

The tech companies have so mastered Washington, they have acquired such cultural prestige, that it’s hard to imagine the system ever restraining them. But we know that politics doesn’t repose in a steady state, and the companies have one gaping vulnerability – they aggressively surveil users. Thus far, the public has tolerated these invasions, but that won’t last forever.

Barack
Barack Obama spent his presidency cheering on the tech companies. In return, they sent their best brains to work for the Democratic administration and its political campaigns. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Hackers are constantly testing security cordons, and constantly bursting through them. Everybody has tolerated this as a fact of digital life, a minor price to pay for its wonders. With the exception of Russian interference in our election, these have been relatively minor breaches. They will prove throat clearing compared with the Big One, the inevitable mega-hack that will rumble society to its core.

The Big One might be an exposed cache of intimate information that disrupts marital relations en masse, as the Ashley Madison hack did on a small scale. It might disrupt our financial system, so that fortunes disappear in an unrecoverable flash. Or it might trigger an actual explosion of infrastructure that kills. If we could predict, we could prevent, but we can’t.

The tech companies can see the Big One coming, and they are bracing for the fallout, which is a perfectly reasonable posture. Their companies have created devices and code that enable omnipresent surveillance; their pack-rat servers hoard personal data. These companies could logically carry the blame for a massive attack.

The best analogy is the financial crisis of 2008. There was nothing that the banks could do to gain political traction in the face of the catastrophe that they unleashed. When the Big One arrives, the tech companies will be vulnerable to the regulation that they have skillfully avoided. (Shamefully, there’s no modern law governing the
use of data.) Just as the financial crisis triggered the creation of Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the rare launch of a new agency – the Big One has the potential for creating a sizable regulatory infrastructure.

What we need is a Data Protection Authority to protect privacy as the government protects the environment. Both the environment and privacy are goods that the market would destroy if left to its own devices. We let business degrade the environment within limits – and we should tolerate the same with privacy. The point isn’t to prevent the collection or exploitation of data. What are needed, however, are constraints, about what can be collected and what can be exploited. Citizens should have the right to purge data that sits on servers. Rules should require companies to set default options so that citizens have to opt for surveillance, rather than passively accept the loss of privacy, a far more robust option than the incomprehensible take-it-or-leave-it terms of service agreements.

This is a matter of autonomy: the intimate details embedded in our data can be used to undermine us; data provides the basis for invisible discrimination; it is used to influence our choices, both our habits of consumption and our intellectual habits. Data provides an X-ray of the soul. Companies turn that photograph of the inner self into a commodity to be traded on a market, bought and sold without our knowledge.

It’s a basic, intuitive right, worthy of enshrinement: citizens, not the corporations that stealthily track them, should own their own data. The law should demand that these companies treat this data with the greatest care, because it doesn’t belong to them.

Possessing our data is a heavy responsibility that must come with ethical obligations. The American government has a special category for corporations that profit from goods that they don’t truly own: we call them trustees. This is how the government treats radio and television broadcasters. Those companies make money from their use of the public airwaves, so the government requires that these broadcasters adhere to a raft of standards. At times, they were asked to broadcast civil defense warnings and public service announcements; they were asked to adhere to decency standards and were required to provide equal airtime to candidates of both political parties. The government, in the form of the Federal Communications Commission, supervises the broadcasters to guarantee that they don’t shirk these obligations.

A
A display of Google devices during an event in San Francisco … ‘Data provides an X-ray of the soul. Companies turn that photograph of the inner self into a commodity to be traded.’ Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

One of the most sacrosanct obligations of the data-driven firms is that they don’t abuse their power to undermine democracy. The government shouldn’t dictate the editorial policy of the platforms, but we should prevent our informational gatekeepers from suppressing criticism of themselves; we should insist that they provide equal access to a multiplicity of sources and viewpoints. I don’t deny that
this is a thicket of complex questions, which would require a legislative doorstop and many judicial rulings to untangle.

This is not, however, a novel interpretation of the government’s responsibilities. It’s exactly what the supreme court has demanded of the state, even its most conservative justices. In 1994 Anthony Kennedy intoned: “Assuring the public has access to a multiplicity of information sources is a governmental purpose of the highest order.”

Over the decades, the American state has done a first-rate job of limiting communications behemoths, allowing the oxygen for new technologies and new competitors.

In the earliest days of the republic, the postal service monopolized the flow of information. But with the advent of the telegraph, the government withstood the temptation to control the new medium, even though the postal service had ample opportunity to swallow it. The government allowed a period of rigorous private competition – which ended, as all such cycles do, with the rise of a monopoly: Western Union. Politicians, however, kept threatening to dismember Western Union, a threat that deterred Western Union from extending itself into telephony. AT&T emerged as the dominant firm in that new technology, but the government wouldn’t let it extend into radio. When NBC achieved a grip over radio, the government insisted that it divide into two – NBC and ABC. The Nixon administration encouraged a challenge to the Big Three networks that controlled broadcasting, by promoting the emergence of cable.

A Data Protection Authority would be the heir to this tradition. Unlike the Federal Trade Commission, which evaluates mergers to preserve low prices and economic efficiency, the authority would review them to protect privacy and the free flow of information. It would constrain monopolies as they attempt to carry their power into the next era, creating the opening through which challengers can ultimately emerge.

The health of our democracy demands that we consider treating Facebook, Google, and Amazon with the same firm hand that led government to wage war on AT&T, IBM, and Microsoft – even dismembering them into smaller companies if circumstances (and the law) demand a forceful response. While it has been several generations since we wielded antitrust laws with such vigor, we should remember
that these cases created the conditions that nurtured the invention of an open, gloriously innovative internet in the first place.

From World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer. Reprinted by arrangement of Penguin Press, part of the Penguin Random House company. Copyright (c) 2017 by Franklin Foer

Continue reading

Make your money work harder – Kansas City Star


Kansas City Star

Make your money work harder
Kansas City Star
Just as it's recommended for you to exercise your body regularly, your money should be pumping iron in your savings account gathering interest like a champ. Let's face it — savings is so important, but the sacrifice is rarely easy. There's always a

Continue reading

Could Datone Jones be an “under the radar” weapon for the Cowboys defense in 2018? – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

Could Datone Jones be an “under the radar” weapon for the Cowboys defense in 2018?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
The Cowboys are in the year-round business of improving this football team. Just ask Stephen Jones. Or, you can just take a look around and let their actions speak for themselves. Moves that we don't think much of at the time can turn out to be rather

Continue reading

The Ad-Blocking Browser That Pays the Sites You Visit

Everyone hates ads. Or at least a lot of people do. But they’re what pays for practically all the journalism and entertainment you enjoy online. So what if you could just set a budget—say, $5 a month—and divvy that up amongst all the sites you visit? It might not amount to much, but if enough people sent pennies—or even fractions of a penny—then maybe, just maybe, those micropayments could add up to a real business model for the media.

This isn’t a new concept. The idea of funding content with micropayments even predates the web itself. But Brendan Eich, the controversial engineer who helped build the popular Mozilla web browser and created JavaScript—the most widely used programming language on the web—has a plan to make it happen at last.

Earlier this year, Eich launched Brave, a new web browser that blocks third party trackers, like cookies. As a side effect, the browser also blocks most ads. But Eich and company have always wanted to find a way to help publishers make money. Starting today, the desktop version of Brave will tally up how often you visit different sites and then set aside a small amount of the bitcoin digital currency for your favorite publishers. Then, once a month, it will send off your donation to a central bitcoin wallet so that publishers can get their share. It should work with Coinbase or any other bitcoin wallet.

The Catch

The catch is that, for now, all that bitcoin will simply go into an escrow until the publishers work out an arrangement with Brave to claim their donations. Eich says Brave hasn’t made deals with any publishers to actually deliver the donations yet. He explains that instead of trying to split the Brave team’s resources between recruiting publishers and building the product, they’ve decided to focus on making it easy for those who wish to donate to do so. “It’s much easier to work out a deal if you have money for them,” Eich says.

The first round of payments won’t happen for 30 days, but realistically, it will probably be much longer until your favorite publishers are actually reaping rewards—assuming publishers end up claiming them at all.

Brave

Publishers have never really responded well to third parties trying to collect donations on their behalf. The “read-it-later” service Readability abandoned such a plan back in 2012 because too few publishers actually claimed their payments. Meanwhile, the Newspaper Association of America has threatened to sue Brave over its planned ad-replacement features and publishers might be loath to accept donations from a company they’re in a legal battle with. When you add in the fact that Brave will take a five percent cut of the donations—to pay for the infrastructure and processing, a spokesperson says—publishers could well balk at the whole idea.

On the other hand, now could be the perfect time to try something like this. A study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that about 26 percent of people surveyed use ad blockers on their desktop and laptop computers and about 15 percent use them on mobile devices. As ad-blocking becomes more common, publishers might be more open to business arrangements they rejected just a few years ago.

A Standard Future

In addition to getting publishers on board, Brave will need to get more people using its browser. Its main focus has been on security and privacy, so adding a new tool that keeps track of your browsing habits is a tricky proposition. Brave is attempting to solve that contradiction by anonymizing all your data before it ever lands on the company’s servers.

Anonymized data is famously easy to de-anonymize. In 2007, researchers were able to identify individual Netflix users based on an anonymous data set the company released as part of a contest to improve its recommendation algorithms. Brave’s solution to this conundrum is to use encryption to send your donations to the central server without sharing potentially identifying information such as where you live or what time you visited a particular site. “Your personal data never leaves your computer,” Eich says. Brave will also mix your data up with other people’s—so that no one can identify you based on the combination of different websites you view—and run everything through a third party service called Private Internet Access.

Eich says his eventual goal is to make this whole system work in a completely decentralized way, so that and readers could donate to publishers without relying on Brave. But establishing those sorts of systems and standards take time, and Eich and company are more interested in building a micropayment system that available in the here and now.

Continue reading

American Apparel founder Dov Charney: ‘Sleeping with people you work with is unavoidable’

Charneys line in hipster fashion made him a multi-million dollar sensation until serial accusations of sexual harassment led to his downfall. Has the man who now sleeps on a mattress in his new factory changed his ways?

Dov Charney, the man at least as famous for founding American Apparel as he is for being serially accused of sexual harassment, is showing me around his new factory in south central Los Angeles. As usual, he is talking at least as fast as he is walking.

“See this shirt? That was influenced by a 1990s shirt one of our designers found. And over there is our photostudio. That guy in there, he’s like a Gatsby bon vivant,” he says in his loud, raspy voice, pointing to a tall young man who, like all the young people who work here, has a somewhat bewildering job title and looks like a model. Another one follows us around with a mobile on a selfie stick. This, I’m told, is “for content”.

But there’s no time to ask questions because Charney, who was sacked from his old company in 2014 after years of rumoured sexual misconduct, is on the move again, while simultaneously texting on one phone and talking on another. The reason we are here today is because he is launching a new label, Los Angeles Apparel, and if you think that sounds like his old label you should see the clothes: cute pleated skirts and 1980s-style sportswear are modelled by mannequins in the factory, making the place look an awful lot like an American Apparel shopfloor. Hey, why fix something that only broke because of a few allegations of sexual impropriety?

Charney himself is clad head-to-toe in white – white T-shirt, white tracksuit bottoms and white Reeboks. “I look like I’m in a loony bin!” he crows. But what he really looks like is someone’s Uncle Morty from Miami: hipster fashion, which Charney, 48, did so much to popularise, has a cruelly young cut-off age, after which all those tapered trousers and oversized sunglasses just make you look like someone’s aged relative. And then the man the New York Times described as “a barely restrained id” and feminist blog Jezebel called a sexist “troglodyte” turns to me with a grin: “Come!” he barks. I follow him through the door on to the factory floor.

American Apparel started off selling basics wholesale, and was a fashion sensation when it launched into retail in 2003. Its slouchy hoodies, funky sunglasses and high-waisted jeans will be seen to be as much a part of the look of the early 2000s as punk was in the 1970s and grunge in the 1990s. It sold a lifestyle to the masses cheaply and let suburban kids pretend they were, as Charney puts it, “the creative class in urban areas” (hipsters, in other words). But the company itself presented a paradox: on the one hand it was manufactured in the US by workers who were paid well; on the other, its advertising featured young women in absurdly provocative poses. Charney himself appeared in some, lying next to seemingly naked young women.

Charney
Charney at the Los Angeles Apparel factory where he lives 24/7, sleeping on a mattress. Photograph: Melissa Lyttle for the Guardian

Unusually – uniquely, even – American Apparel was a high-street store that had a face to it and Charney – whose facial hair, tight T-shirts and vintage glasses suggested a 1970s pornographer – was that all-too-visible face. His reputation as a sexual creep became unshakeable when he masturbated – twice – in front of a young female magazine journalist during an interview in 2004 (“‘Can I?’ he says, adjusting himself in his chair …”), and he was whacked with a seemingly endless series of sexual harassment charges over the next few years. In 2011, five ex-employees filed lawsuits. This increasingly became a problem for consumers: in the early years “hipster” meant someone who wore vintage clothes and read Vice magazine, but as the decade progressed the term denoted someone who cared about ethical values, and Charney’s reputation was overshadowing the company’s record on workers’ rights. By the time Charney was finally sacked by the board of his own company, he’d had one of the most vertiginous rises and falls in the business world, and he went from having over $500m in stock options to bankruptcy.

Charney is desperately counting on Los Angeles Apparel – which, like American Apparel, is starting off in wholesale – to restore his standing. To this end, he is currently living in the factory so he can keep an eye on things 24/7, sleeping on a mattress that everyone carefully walks around. This also saves time in the mornings: instead of commuting he can spend an extra hour dealing with the four lawsuits linked to American Apparel’s implosion that he is still involved in. No one seems to think it is a little ironic for a man who was brought down by accusations of sexual impropriety in the workplace to now keep a mattress in his office.

I’d been warned that I might be a little shocked by the factory. “There might be some people, um, undressed,” Charney’s loyal assistant – and, it turns out, his cousin – Sam said to me on the phone.

“What?” I replied.

“But journalists don’t think it’s strange when athletes are getting undressed in locker rooms after a game, so it’s weird people get freaked out by it,” Sam says. And people do indeed get freaked out by it: one of the many allegations made about Charney at American Apparel was that he wandered through the offices in his underwear.

But the factory does not look like the Roman orgy I’d expected. The 350 largely Hispanic workers on the factory floor are all cutting and sewing while Charney, who seems to know them all by name, and is fully clothed, talks to them intently about the tiniest details. In fact, most of them worked for him at American Apparel and such is their loyalty to a man who always paid them at least minimum wage, plus benefits, that they have bet the little they have on him being able to start up a new company. Charney is not the only one with a lot at stake here.

“Wait,” he says to me, “I gotta show ya this skirt, it’s just like what you’re wearing. It’s so cute!”

Watching him shuffle along in his grubby tracksuit, talking urgently to the workers about how the seam of a T-shirt must sit, babbling to bemused twentysomethings about how his family has always been in the schmatte (Yiddish for “clothing”) business, all I can think is, this is the guy who dictated youth taste for over a decade? This is the guy who was seen as so out there his adverts were banned in Britain? This was one of the most notorious predators in the fashion business? This guy?

But then the two of us go into a small side office and things become a lot clearer very quickly.

People
People walk past an American Apparel store in Los Angeles in 2016, after a bankruptcy court approved the company’s reorganisation plan. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

In order to understand Charney you have to understand that American Apparel was, from its clothes to its advertising to its ethos, fully an expression of him. His move into hipster fashion was the culmination of a lifelong obsession with American youth style that began when he was a precocious teenager in Montreal. He went to university in the US but dropped out to manufacture and sell T-shirts. He was widely criticised in later years for allegedly hiring employees based on their looks, but he says people misunderstood: a teetotal workaholic, he needs to have trendy young people around him to keep him plugged into the zeitgeist.

“For example, there’s this girl, Jasmine, and she was just an intern but she’s got good taste so boom! She’s in!” he barks, smacking his hands together.

Lots of his heroes stayed in touch with youth culture by hanging out with young people, he adds, citing Andy Warhol, Vivienne Westwood and “that crazy German guy, designer, lost lots of weight, has boyfriends” (Karl Lagerfeld). Also: Woody Allen. As it happens, Charney had legal issues with Allen in 2008 when American Apparel used his image without asking, but now Charney claims two are buddies.

“He came out to see me in LA before I was fired. He toured the factory, we hung out, he’s a mensch,” Charney says.

The image of these two men with a notorious penchant for young women together is certainly a memorable one. Did Woody reach out to him?

“Yes, through a mutual friend. He’s a fine man,” he says.

Woody Allen’s spokesman denies this meeting ever took place.

As he is telling me this story he is fiddling with something on the arm of the sofa he is sitting on. At first I think it’s a light but it turns out to be another selfie stick. He puts in his phone and carefully turns it so it is filming his face, which is where it stays for the next three hours. Does he film his interviews as a precaution, given what’s happened in the past?

“I just think interviews are interesting. They’re fun to watch back and wonder what I was thinking. Shame you’re not in it!” he says.

To Charney, his story is incredibly simple. Like his business hero, Steve Jobs, he is the free-thinking maverick who corporate forces set out to destroy. It’s easy to see why he inspires such loyalty from his employees: he is undeniably charismatic and talks with passion about how a business should be run, with an emphasis on workers’ rights, listening to young people and having no hierarchical divides. His supporters and critics talk about “the cult of Dov” but Charney sees it more simply: “I like young people. I get them. I’m like a young person. The thing about monogamy is it freezes you, so one way to stay young is to never graduate to that conventional situation,” he says.

Does he have a girlfriend who shares his office mattress with him? “I wouldn’t say that, but I have bonds with people that are very intense and important.”

So he doesn’t have any trouble dating now, despite his reputation? He makes a wolfish grin: “No, that is not a problem. The women like an enfant méchant. Also, I look like a warrior because I’m coming back.”

Charney describes Los Angeles Apparel as “a continuum” of American Apparel: “The people aren’t different, the materials aren’t different, the environment isn’t different.”

Does that mean he’s still going to walk around in his underwear? “That [claim] was untrue. Absolutely untrue! I mean, it is true that I was in my underwear in front of employees when I was doing underwear fittings. That happens in fashion companies.”

He grabs hold of a pair of tiny black panties that happen to be on the side of the sofa.

“So take Jasmine –”

Jasmine the intern?

“Yeah, she wore this underwear in front of me,” he says. “It’s not incendiary, it’s not inflammatory, it’s totally normal.”

But it is sexy, presumably.

“It is! I mean, have fun, try on the underwear. I’m not unfit, you know.”

Charney insists he’s too busy at the moment to think about this kind of sexy stuff, although this would be a little more believable if two hours before our interview he hadn’t posted on his Instagram a video of a young female employee in the office bending over in a thong leotard, filmed in the photo studio we just visited. As the camera looms right up to her face she looks around and smiles sexily.

“Look, I’m not going to be a victim of sex-shame tactics,” Charney says when I ask about the film. “This obsession that I should be punished for the advertising is fascistic and anti-woman. I will express myself as I always have done.”

Is he dating the young woman in the interview? “No, no. But there’s always a connection between a filmmaker and subject.”

The story of what actually happened to American Apparel depends on who you ask, Charney or the board members. The shortest answer is that the problems started when the company went public in 2007, and soon enough, all the qualities that Charney saw as his strengths – his unpredictability, his dizzying ambition, his notoriety – were liabilities in the context of Wall Street. American Apparel was also crushed with debt accrued from rapid over-expansion, despite raking in hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and Charney himself was costing the company money. All told, the litigations against him cost the brand $8.2m, although most was covered by insurance. In 2014, it was announced that Charney was fired, “citing an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct”. But without Charney, acting as the head, face and groin of the brand, the company crashed and thousands of jobs were lost. It was chopped up, sold and re-sold, and is currently limping along online, using many of Charney’s images.

That Charney slept with many young women who worked for him has never been up for debate. But it is also true that he was never actually found guilty of sexual harassment, despite the multiple allegations. Of the five suits filed in 2011, for example, three were cleared by a judge and two went to arbitration.

“There had been stories about Dov for years and years, but they had been very hard to pin down because every time an employee made a complaint against him it went to arbitration,” Allan Mayer, former co-chairman of American Apparel’s board, tells me. “But when we were able to conduct a more forensic investigation with an outside investigator we found videos and emails from him on the company server that, well, to call them inappropriate would be an understatement.”

Charney insists this is all bunkum and was just an excuse for the board to take the company from him and make money for themselves. Yes, there were sexual harassment allegations, but these were old by the time he was fired, and in none of the cases was anything found against him, and this is all true. He also insists the business was in great shape financially: “Why else would they want to take it off me?”

But Mayer says that because of Charney’s notoriety no reputable business would lend them money, so they had to borrow “at credit card rates”.

“I’ve known Dov since 2004 and I know he honestly doesn’t believe he sexually harassed anyone,” says Mayer. “But when a 45-year-old CEO is sleeping with 19-year-old sales clerks it doesn’t make it consensual. The imbalance is so vast.”

Mayer admits American Apparel’s policy on workplace relationships “was not as hard and fast as it is at other companies” and Charney seizes on this: “If it was such a problem for them why didn’t they just ask me to sign a non-fraternisation policy?”

Would he have signed it?

He hesitates for a few seconds: “Temporarily, maybe. Sure.”

Many people see an inherent contradiction between Charney’s indefatigable championing of workers’ rights and his equally energetic pursuit of his female employees. But for Charney, the through line is obvious: he is, essentially, a libertarian who thinks there should be no boundaries, national, professional, sexual.

“Look, let’s say this first: I abhor all forms of sexual harassment, period. But it’s unrealistic for the government to interfere with people’s private lives, and that’s it,” he says.

I ask if he’s still sleeping with employees. “That’s private!” he retorts.

Charney talks about his firing with obsessive fury, raging about how his business was “stolen from” him. But does he regret the behaviour that led to his sacking? “Not at all! Sleeping with people you work with is UNAVOIDABLE!”

But “employees” are not people you work with – that’s colleagues. An employee is someone who works for you, I say. “Yeah, but that’s – OK, I’ll say this, I never had a romantic relationship with a factory worker. Ever! It wouldn’t be possible! But a creative equal? Yeah! And if anything, I’ll tell you, I don’t know who was the predator – you know what I’m saying?” he laughs.

“Take yourself,” he continues. “You’re well-spoken, well-educated, you decide to work here. And we develop a romantic interest in each other. We could say, ‘OK, we’re attracted to each other, but it’s better we just work together.’ OK, we could try that. And that may work. But if the attraction is so intense, eventually we’re gonna give up! We’ve tried to avoid it, but we’ve decided that we’re going to get involved.”

But could he really not have changed his behaviour to stay in control of his own company? “Never! Out of the question. It wouldn’t be good for society! It wouldn’t advance the rights of workers.”

But it would have kept your workers employed.

“No, no!” He is exasperated that I’m still not getting the truth here. “You think, I was just supposed to stand up straighter, not allowed to wear [just] my underwear? No! [The board] wanted control! It was all a hoax.”

But even if it was all a hoax, even if the board just wanted to seize the company, didn’t he leave himself vulnerable to it?

“Maybe, a little bit, probably. But I think my real mistake was that I was too trusting. I should have removed some of the board members.”

“I think Dov is irrepressible,” says Mayer. “He is who he is and he sincerely does not see that he did anything wrong, so it’s hard to see why he would change.”

There is no doubt Charney is, when it comes to retail and workers’ rights, something of a visionary. But if you are not willing to keep it zipped to pursue your dreams, you will only run so far before tripping over your trousers. You can insist that this is just about society’s hypocrisies and limitations all you want, but if you’re not willing (or able) to compromise at least on this issue for the greater good, then people will wonder what your priorities actually are. But to Charney, his story exemplifies how hysteria about sex and gender can obscure the real issues.

“Like with Trump, OK? It disgusted me when they made a big deal about the Billy Bush episode. The man’s a terror because he’s anti-worker, anti-immigrant, a nationalist, hostile to environmental ideology and knows nothing about how to bring manufacturing back. He has no ideas! That’s what matters! Liberals lost on ideology!”

And of course, he’s kind of right, and just as I find myself nodding along he adds, “That stuff he said to Billy Bush [about grabbing women by the vagina] – who cares? If you recorded all the things I said about women in the past 10 days it would be no different.”

Interview done, he gives me one last tour of the factory. He is a ball of energy; you’d never guess he’d been talking pretty much non-stop for three hours as he chatters away to suppliers, workers and employees, talking on this phone, texting on that one. I tell him I’m going to call a cab and wait out front. A few minutes later, he suddenly appears next to me. “So are you hanging round in LA for a while?” he asks, and he has a shy smile on his face.

I say I am.

“What are you up to?” he asks.

I tell him I’m doing another interview, I might go check out some museums.

“Uh-huh,” he says, still smiling.

I mention I also want to pick up some American toys for my kids.

“Right,” he says, smile disappearing. “OK, bye.”

And just like that, he disappears, already on the move again.

  • This article was amended on 11 September 2017 to include the fact that a spokesman for Woody Allen denied that the meeting ever took place.

Continue reading
Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy | Copyright Notice | Anti Spam Policy | Earnings Disclaimer | Health Disclaimers | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy