The internet was resplendent this week. Highlights: M.I.A deserves reexamining, it is okay to work on the same project forever, we almost stopped climate change in the 1980s, Winnie the Pooh is forever nostalgic, McDonald’s monopoly games were rigged, The Bachelorette is a “butch bro version of RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Vogue maybe starting to appreciate black women, Melania Trump trolled her husband via Lebron James, and there is always something to learn from James Baldwin.
1. Affidavit: M.I.A. and the Defense of Nuance I read this article and immediately thought of Claire Dederer’s article What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men? published in the Paris Review in the wake of the early part of the #metoo movement. M.I.A. has a history of anti-blackness, beginning in 2016 when she “responded off the cuff to a question about Black Lives Matter: ‘Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters?’”
When asked about the topic again at an interview at MoMA last year, M.I.A. “brought up Mark Zuckerberg as evidence that she was set up… by the internet. That her online fans should know that she’s not racist… Her incomprehension that people could be upset by her remarks reflected her naivety about how the internet kills its darlings.” But, as Fariha Róisín points out, perhaps M.I.A. “is trying to say is that American issues have become global” and “what she lacks the language to say is: how do we also care about the many millions of people around the world who are dying, right now? Why does American news, American trauma, American death, always take center-stage?”
2. Believer: Broken Time I have always found people that can work on one thing for their whole lives the most seductive. I am not a patient thinker, and my brain ceaselessly flows from one topic to another. Intellectually following through on an idea is nearly impossible for me. Jazz pianist Bill Evans spent his entire life doing what I crave most: working on one piece.
Nardis, composed by Miles Davis, became the theme for Evans’ life, and each of his interpretation function as a metaphor for his life. Evans “became so closely associated with the tune that some of his fans dispute that Miles actually wrote it, insisting that Evans deserves the credit.” In 1958, that first time the song was being recorded, Evans was the only musician that played it “the way it was meant to be played,” according to Davis.
By the end of his life, “he played like a man determined to escape a lifetime of confinement, using every ounce of technique and discipline to painstakingly unlock a sequence of iron doors that might lead him to daylight. There was no bass or drum solo after Evans’s intro that night, just a quick unison statement of the melody by the trio at the end. There was nothing left to be said.”
3. New York Times: Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change This is an amazing article but it is not for the faint of heart. When they say longread they mean LONG! And this piece takes just over two hours to get through. The article follows the path of EPA-600/7-78-019, a government report on the state of fossil fuels published in 1979.
“The coal report’s authors noted that the continued use of fossil fuels might, within two or three decades, bring about ‘significant and damaging’ changes to the global atmosphere.” From 1979 to 1989, “the world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions — far closer than we’ve come since.” Humanity’s ability to fuck ourselves and everything else is endlessly amazing.
4. The Atlantic: Giants of the Deep Growing up, I was obsessed with whales. I wanted to be a marine biologist and knew arguably too much about them. While I don’t know nearly as much about them as I used to, whales are still some of my favorite animals. Nowadays, as oceans and everything else come under the threat of climate change, whales are facing many obstacles that they cannot out evolve.
As our technology advances, our ability to track whales increases, but whales are now starting to be used as a kind of technological instrument of their own. “Cetacean blubber, and the fibrous baleens that some whales use to strain their prey from seawater, can be assayed to chronicle agrochemical use, carbon emissions, and atmospheric-weapons tests.”
5. The Outline: “Christopher Robin” is Made to Fuck You Up All of my favorite movies — Happy Feet, Surf’s Up, and Meet the Robinsons — are children’s movies. I liked all of them when I first saw them as a child, but none of them became favorites until I went to college, when I began letting go of my childhood. The older I get the more I need them. The more I need to watch movies about discovering or rediscovering purpose, and what matters most.
By most accounts, Christopher Robin is a children’s movie made for adults, much like Toy Story 3. When Jeremey Gordon saw the film, his “theater was comprised entirely of adults; there was one child, accompanied by his grandfather, who wandered up and down the aisles through the movie, attention span apparently unyoked by the sober moralism.” I haven’t seen Christopher Robin yet, but hopefully, I will soon.
6. The Daily Beast: How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions This is one of the strangest stories I have read since doing this list. Not only is it as ridiculous as the title makes it sound, the way that it is written makes me think that all of the people involved have mullets. Idk… maybe it is because a lot of the story takes place in Florida. Anyways, “for over 12 years, Jacobson’s scheme had existed only in his mind. Now his crooked plan was a chart on FBI stationery.” I really want this to turn into a movie, but like if Masterminds wasn’t a flop.
7. BuzzFeed: On “The Bachelorette,” Men Are The Butt Of The Joke — For Once If you don’t watch The Bachelorette you are missing some PRIME television! This article has some of my favorite descriptions I have read this week, explaining that “The Bachelorette flips the usual script of reality television, and the culture at large, by forcing its men — usually uber-masculine Ken dolls — into a competitive male harem that brings out their pettiest instincts and deepest insecurities.
They have to try to outmaneuver each other, spilling other contestants’ dark or embarrassing secrets, without turning off the Bachelorette herself. In the show’s rom-com fantasy world, they must always say the right thing, perform their vulnerability, be willing to expose their bodies — even undergo that most unspeakable horror of straight American men’s nightmares: wearing a Speedo. And so the end result is a one-of-a-kind combination of conventional, heteronormative (if situationally polyamorous) romance coupled with a mostly unintentional commentary on masculinity, akin to a butch bro version of RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
I am honestly not sure another description of the series ever needs to be written. It encapsulates all of my feelings about the show in one paragraph, and how it engenders almost constant critical dialogue and is responsible for keeping the boxed rosé industry afloat.
.@Edward_Enninful’s on his September issue cover star: “I always knew it had to be @rihanna. When it comes to that potent mix of fashion and celebrity, nobody does it quite like her” https://t.co/zsMMEDyuZD pic.twitter.com/pOy4fppHI8
— British Vogue (@BritishVogue) August 2, 2018
Okay… so I’m combining some things this week. Rihanna and Beyonce are both making history this month by being the first black women on the covers of British and American Vogue respectively. Rihanna’s photos have already come out and are mind-blowingly beautiful. In an unprecedented move, Beyonce is also getting full control of her shoot and selected Tyler Mitchell to be her photographer. I’m v interested to see if Beyonce will pull her normal shit and pose as The Madonna, or breakout of the hyper-designed shell she has created for herself over the years. Anyway, look forward to my full reports on the covers in September.
Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018
Donald Trump tweeted again and here we are. Trump commented that “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” After James said that “Sports has never been something that divides people. It’s always been something that brings someone together… He [Trump] is dividing us and what I noticed over the last few months is that he’s kinda used sport to divide us and that’s something I can’t relate to because I know that sport was the first time I was ever around someone white.”
Naturally, everyone is weighing in on this INCLUDING Melania Trump, who supports James. Her support comes on the heels of launching her new anti-bullying campaign. Which LOL because she is married to Trump!
James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, and would have turned 94 this year. It is no coincidence that Barry Jenkins, writer and director of Moonlight, decided to release the trailer for his upcoming film If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the novel by Baldwin. Baldwin also functioned as a sort of public intellectual but has seemed to capture the attention of the film industry in the last few years—in particular, Raoul Peck’s 2016 documentary, I Am Not Your Negro.
I met a professor in Rome earlier this summer that told me the world would be a better place if everyone watched I Am Not Your Negro. I have yet to see the film in its entirety, but based on reading Baldwin’s work, I know my friend’s statement is probably true.
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