Everything was all about the midterm elections this week, and apart from that coverage, the internet wasn’t really my thing. Highlights: Ezra Miller wants a “rooster-type man,” Prince Charles might finally get to become king, a schism is brewing in the Catholic Church, childhood memories can be filled with the best acoustics, Joni Mitchell turned 75, in 2017 two million acres of the Great Plains burned, being famous doesn’t protect you from fires, bullets leave scars, Jeff Goldblum is a jazz pianist, and the midterm elections produced some great memes.
I learned of Ezra Miller and Zoe Kravitz in the same movie, Beware the Gonzo. I have no clue where I found the movie, and remember very little of what it is about—high school, underage drinking and consent from my recollection. I haven’t followed Miller’s career as closely as Kravitz, but recently, he has been demanding more attention.
This interview is as filled with funny tidbits as Kravitz’s profile last week in Rolling Stone was. Instead of Williamsburgh, Miller’s interview is set in another hipster-bohemian capital: Vermont. “’I live on a farm in Vermont’ sounds like something a celebrity says when they really mean they own a charming cabin on three acres that they visit twice a year when they need to get away from their other vacation homes. But Miller… says it’s really a farm, and that he really lives there… Days later, I’m standing in the middle of 100 acres of genuine Vermont farmland, observing Miller’s apple orchard and chicken coop and a tractor and the greenhouse where he grows whatever his heart desires, which, this month, is saffron. (Much cheaper to grow yourself, he says.) Oh, and good news: The goat is going to give birth today, and Miller is going to deliver the kids.”
Other celebrities don’t make appearances in this profile, but, if you were wondering, Miller is “looking for a rooster-type man,” and isn’t much interested in the celebrity dating scene but open to seeing “a list of celebrity couples who’d want to collectively date me.” FYI.
2. Vanity Fair: “I Don’t Really See Any Value in Saying, ‘I Told You So,’”: Prince Charles on His Climate-Change Fight, Life with Camilla, and Becoming King
Is it bad that I never remember Prince Charles is first in line for the throne? I feel like the crown is going to skip over Princes Charles and land squarely on Prince William’s head.
As his mother is the longest reigning monarch in British history, Prince Charles is the longest waiting heir apparent. But waiting so long has its perks. “Dodging the sovereign’s constitutionally mandated straitjacket and muzzle, the Prince of Wales has been able to express strong opinions on many issues—including climate change, alternative medicine, and architectural preservation—for which he has been harshly criticized.” Prince Charles is a prolific worker, and in 2017, he completed the most jobs out of anyone else in the royal family, 546.
Now, Prince Charles is transitioning out of “everything that is too political,” and acting as “proxy head of state for his mother.” His ascension has begun.
3. Vanity Fair: Pope vs. Pope: How Francis and Benedict’s Simmering Conflict Could Split the Catholic Church
My dad’s side of the family is Catholic. His mother was born in Italy, and it seemed like she was always talking about going to mass. My father went to Catholic schools. His aunt was a nun from when she turned 18 to when she died. I wasn’t raised Catholic, but it has been a backdrop in my life.
There is a fight brewing in the Catholic Church between the liberal Pope Francis, and his conservative predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. After his retirement, Pope Benedict XVI was expected to disappear from public view, but he has remained active. “Benedict laid the ground for an involved retirement early on. In the early 1990s, John Paul II built a residence in the Vatican gardens, with a chapel attached, to house a community of 12 contemplative nuns who engaged in silent prayer to support his pontificate. Benedict, four months ahead of his resignation, and without signaling the purpose, ordered a renovation of the convent, now cleared of the nuns, to create a suitable Vatican retirement home, office, and chapel—with ample space for his live-in caregiver.” As one of his last moves before retirement, Benedict also appointed “the conservative bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as the new head of the orthodoxy police, formally known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Benedict must have known, even at this point, that he was planning his resignation and therefore saddling his successor with a hard-line doctrinal watchdog who would be difficult to replace.”
Francis, on the other hand, preaches a humanistic vision of the religion. After his election, Pope Francis responded: “I am a sinner” when asked to describe himself. “When asked about homosexuality during an in-flight press conference in 2013, he famously said, ‘Who am I to judge?'”
Catholics might be forced to choose between orthodoxy of Benedict, and the humanism of Francis. Today, perhaps “the saddest, most frightening aspect of a schism would be the consequences for clergy, sisterhoods, and the ordinary faithful. It’s easy to imagine splits within parishes and even families over the conservative-liberal divide: conflicts between parish priests and their curates, divided religious communities, parents and siblings taking sides, all aided and abetted by social media.”
4. Granta: Bohemian Rhapsody in Five Acts
I have spent this past week in the city I grew up in. I haven’t lived there since I was 15. I have never learned how to drive, and Michigan doesn’t really have public transportation so I walk everywhere. Things are almost where I remember them, but not quite. I have to ask my parents to remind of street names and the best ways to get to places. My memories of everything are always a little hazy and filtered through the eyes of a child.
When Tiffany Murray was seven, her mother rented out their house for soon-to-be famous bands to practice. It was “because of the hall. We have a hall so big your voice echoes up to the rafters and the drop from the gallery is so deep that the day I finally jump, I’m sure I’ll fly. It’s here where it happens: the acoustics, Mum calls them.” The first band to come was Black Sabbath, then Queen, although they weren’t famous yet.
Murray would sneak into the barn to watch practices. Freddie Mercury’s “front teeth press out of his lips. He is sitting at the white piano now… The sounds he is making are slow and it makes me sad. Then it becomes bright and silly… I am sleepy but I listen.”
Throughout the piece, Murray has to call her mother to fill in the details. “There was that time I nearly killed you,” Murray’s mom recalls. “You told your primary school friends they could come home with you and see a rock band. They all followed you down the main road, a pack of seven year olds all marching up the drive like little bloody Von Trapps. It was ghastly.”
5. NPR: Joni Mitchell At 75: Trouble Is Still Her Muse
Out of all of the picks this week, this article is the one written with the most love and compassion. Joni Mitchell turned 75 this week, and her birthday was celebrated in a two-night gala at LA’s Music Center. It was a rare appearance for Mitchell since she suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015 and has since been recovering. “Her diminished presence has raised anxiety in fans who can’t imagine a world without Mitchell’s voice… Like her prime compatriots Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and her favorite protégé, Prince, no one can adequately echo her; even great singers, taking on her songbook, admit they can only hope to achieve proximity.”
The first two paragraphs of this are stunning:
“I wouldn’t have pursued music but for trouble,” Joni Mitchell once said. Mitchell was referring to real problems — her childhood time spent bedridden with polio and the life-shaping loss she experienced after giving her daughter up for adoption in 1965. Those events solidified the drive that pushed Mitchell forward from small-potatoes rural Canada toward the American meccas where she would prove to be the magnet shifting the needle of pop. But trouble, in all its manifestations, is also Mitchell’s muse.
Call it her craving for innovation, or her refusal to rest in comforting clichés; call it the essence that makes her a secret sharer for millions of listeners’ and most musicians’ daunting standard-bearer. Trouble is Mitchell’s jazz, the blasted-open space that can feel like a void but is also the real ground of possibility. It rings through her famous open guitar tunings and surfaces in the way her foot worries a piano pedal. It’s in the impossible careening of her young soprano and the cracked resonance of the lower tones that came later. To become preoccupied with Joni Mitchell’s music, whether as a fellow musician or as a serious fan, is to welcome trouble as a friend, as the challenge that animates life. Her songs ask us to live within trouble, to see the mirrors embedded in its cracks: the trouble we make, the trouble that waylays us, that makes a nest that we then fill with more trouble because we are made of it, too.
I have never invested as much time as I should to Joni Mitchell, but I have started the process after reading this.
6. The New Yorker: The Day the Great Plains Burned
I don’t remember reading about the Northwest Complex Fires. On March 6, 2017, nearly two million acres burned on the south-central Great Plains. The fires developed so quickly from down power lines throughout the region that “Mutual Aid, an organization of neighboring counties that help one another in emergencies” didn’t have enough equipment or manpower to help, and most counties were left the defend themselves.
For the farmers, “losing buildings and fences and vehicles and stored-up hay was bad, but the suffering of the cattle grieved the ranchers’ souls. Thousands of cattle died in the fire, but thousands wretchedly survived—blinded, their ears gone, ear tags melted, udders burned off. Many had little hair left and their feet were burned so badly that they walked out of their hooves. Herds stood swaying slightly, moaning or mute in agony. Shooting cattle occupied the ashy days afterward. Ranchers whose guns and ammunition had burned up had to borrow them or ask neighbors to do the killing. Bulldozers and backhoes dug pits for mass burials.”
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I’m kinda obsessed with the celebrity news coverage of the Woosley fire. I think it is fascinating and funny and completely obvious how much attention the fire is getting because it is burning down the neighborhoods of the rich and famous. (To be clear, I don’t think it is funny that people are dying and their homes are burning, just the way it is being covered through a celebrity lens.) Fires are something that money and fame can’t get out of.
If famous people lived in the Great Plains we would hear more about their fires.
8. New York Magazine: The Class of 1946–2018
This week the NRA tweeted at anti-gun doctors, telling them to “stay in their lane” only hours before the Thousand Oaks shooting. Many doctors, a lot of whom work in emergency medicine, were deeply offended, responding “why don’t YOU try being the person who has to go into a room & tell a family the worst possible news they are ever going to hear because the damage their kid came in with was beyond our saving? Not only is this OUR lane, YOU ARE IN IT,” and other similar sentiments. One needs only to look at a few of these images to understand how doctors are impacted by mass shootings.
9. NPR: Jeff Goldblum The Jazz Artist? Life, Uh, Finds A Way
Ummmm… So I feel like I have a hazy memory or reading somewhere that Jeff Goldblum was into jazz… But I was not expecting this???
Jeff Goldblum is one of those celebrities, like Jack Black, that can do anything and you think “weird, but okay, seems legit” accepting whatever they have done and moving on with your life. Apart from being a huge source of meme inspiration, “the actor, known for roles in Hollywood blockbusters and a singular, chin-stroking comic persona, plays piano in a jazz band with a standing weekly gig, which he calls The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. The performances are casual and unstructured, with the man of the hour playing keys one moment, holding court and posing for photos with attendees the next, just generally being … well, Jeff Goldblum.”
me voting in 2016 vs. me voting in 2018 pic.twitter.com/GEdzcQHySg
— Jill Gutowitz (@jillboard) November 5, 2018
One thing we should all know by now is that political turmoil produces some of the best memes. The midterm elections were no exception.
*All images taken from reference articles*
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