The internet was very weird this week. Highlights: the legacy of Karl Lagerfeld isn’t all glamorous, Swizz Beats loves contemporary art, MICA confronts its racist past, Jussie Smollett got caught, the Kardashians have snakes living in their garden, dating is hard, 2000s tabloid culture moved to Tulum, Theranos is over but it’s okay because Elizabeth Holmes loves her dog, too much is often times just too much, and we must always keep reading.
1. The Independent: How can we celebrate the art of Karl Lagerfeld – who said such controversial things? Here’s how I do it
I’m not really into fashion, and have been told that I don’t have a style, I have a uniform… which is true. I only have a peripheral understanding of Karl Lagerfeld, but damn if celebrities don’t love him.
Lagerfeld’s death has been very controversial, mostly due to the way people are remembering him. It is hard to talk about fashion without acknowledging Lagerfeld’s influence, which is incontrovertible, but he was also an elitist bully: “He had called women ‘too fat’, criticised the Me Too movement and made an Islamophobic comment in reference to Angela Merkel welcoming Syrian refugees into Germany. He had stood by a friend accused of sexual assault.”
It seems we are at a moment in cultural reckoning and criticism where we are (mostly) not seperating the art and the artist, “so where does this leave us? We should always hold people in the public eye to account. Whether they choose to be role models or not, they have a sphere of influence and a duty of care.” Are we going to separate Lagerfeld from his work? Should we? Only time will tell.
Last year at the Armory Show, I saw Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz looking at some ugly artwork. It was a very exciting moment for me, as my love for early Alicia Keys is undying.
Collecting art is very on trend at the moment, especially for those in hip-hop. Just last year P Diddy bought a Kerry James Marshall painting for $21.1 million. Beyonce and Jay-Z are all about museums atm. And Kayne is, well, Kanye. But before all of them, Swizz Beatz was collecting art. The first piece he bought was an Ansel Adams photograph in 1990, but “as he began collecting more seriously, he and Keys refocused their purchases on living artists, especially African-American artists — people like Nina Chanel Abney, Arthur Jafa and Deana Lawson — who are the primary focus of what he now calls the Dean Collection, and whose careers he learned he could help as a high-profile client of various galleries.”
3. ArtNews: Maryland Institute College of Art Issues Statement ‘Acknowledging Racist Past’
I went to MICA for undergrad. On Thursday, MICA’s President, Samuel Hoi, issued a memo acknowledging the school’s racist past. The memo was, in part, a reaction to Blackives, a recent exhibition at the school created by photography student Deyane Moses. When speaking to ArtNews, Hoi stated that “an institutional acknowledgment in the form of an apology, no matter how sincere, is empty unless it is rooted in a systemic commitment for change and unless it represents meaningful action that is in progress.” Moses also noted that “MICA was the first art college in America, and it has such traditional roots. [The memo is] hopefully a sign that if MICA can change, America can as well, because it’s not just MICA. . . . Their statement could be a turning point for other art colleges.”
Do I think this is a good start? Absolutely. But I also think MICA has started at this same place before.
4. Complex: A Timeline of Jussie Smollett’s Case
I have been following the news around Jussie Smollett since his attack was first reported at the end of January. Since the attack, first investigated as a hate crime after Smollett said the perpetrators yelled racial and homophobic slurs, evidence has been discovered that the Empire actor staged the whole event.
After the news broke of Smollett’s involvement, people have naturally been very upset that he lied, worrying that it might now be harder for victims of hate crimes to come forward and be believed. Other people who were initially supportive of Smollett due to the aforementioned problem, are now voicing their early skepticism. I think this story is still developing.
Jordyn Woods is best friends with the worlds youngest billionaire who gifts her with cars, diamonds, and lavish vacations. You’re telling me there’s a chance she gave that all up for a guy who rides bench for the Cavs and has a community dick? THE HORROR
— meg walsh (@MegWalshh) February 19, 2019
I know I have not talked about the Kardashians in a while, but this DRAMA is too good not to discuss! It was leaked on Tuesday that Khloe Kardashian’s baby daddy and now ex-boyfriend, Tristen Thompson, slept/had an affair with Jordyn Woods, best friend of Kylie Jenner—Khloe’s younger sister. Woods was so close with the Klan that she even lived with Kylie, had her own lip kit—which has since gone on sale—was a model for Khloe’s clothing line—images of her have been removed from the line’s website—vacationed with the family, and was generally very ~around~.
It seems like every time I check BuzzFeed there is a new development in the saga. Let’s just say that Kris is probably excited for next season of KUWTK, and it seems like the Kardashians have a few snakes of their own.
6. Vulture: A Friend Date With Dating Around’s Gurki Basra
One of my friends in her mid-40s has been with her husband since they were 19. Whenever the current state of dating comes up, I always sarcastically veto her opinion because the last time she casually dated was about five years before I was born.
If you are older, or have been in a committed relationship for a while and what to know about the gross state of contemporary dating, Netflix’s new show Dating Around is for you. The show follows six New Yorkers as they go on five blind dates, with the chance for a second one. At just under 30 minutes per episode, the show is easily binge-able.
The cringiest date of the series is in episode two when Gurki Basra, a Punjabi-American divorcée, goes out with Justin, who can be completely described by his “does this make me look like a Nazi” haircut. In short, Justin mansplains the whole date away after learning that Basra is a divorcée and had reservations about the relationship before she got married. Basra tries to give context, stating that her parents had an arranged marriage and there were other pressures from her Punjabi culture, which Justin “understands.” The whole thing ends with Justin saying “You ruined eight years of your life. You lied to him, and yourself … How could I ever trust you? How could anyone ever trust you,” and not listening to how Basra learned from the relationship before she says they are “clearly” not having a second date and he leaves.
Basra is also the only one on the series that didn’t go on a second date with anyone, stating, “I knew that it would only lead to maybe a third or fourth date. As you get older, you’re more self-aware. I knew I didn’t feel the need to lead anyone on just because I could have a second date with someone.” Basra is clearly a badass and I’m so glad this interview happened so we could learn more about her.
7. The Cut: Who Killed Tulum
I’ve never been to Tulum, but based on this article, it seems like the place where 2000s tabloid pop culture went to die. For example, James Gardner, the owner of Gitano, a club-style restaurant, noted the glamour of Tulum as he gestured “toward the sequined booty shorts on the hips of the night’s DJ, who didn’t blink. Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes, was at the table, as was ‘some kind of Belgian aristocrat’ with long blond hair and a lip ring. The Belgian was leaning back with his leg, in a cast, on the table… The Belgian started making out with his fiancée while a man wearing a Balenciaga shirt with a logo modeled after the one from Bernie Sanders’s campaign walked past in one direction. A server carrying a smoking goblet of copal, a local bark, went by in the other. Gardner said it kept the mosquitoes away while having the benefit of looking cool. Other locals told me that copal helps mask how bad the septic tanks can smell at some places in Tulum on a busy night.” Woowww… it sounds like it has turned into hell on Earth.
It is easy to place all the blame on tourists, who largely seem to be responsible. But it started before the tourists, when “in the ’70s, the Mexican government designated 25,000 acres around Tulum as ejido land, a system meant to distribute underused property to landless farmers.” Over time, “the landowners, many of whom were local Mayans, had sliced and diced individual properties, sometimes selling them to multiple buyers — one in Cancún, another in Mérida, a third flying in from New York. No one spent much time cross-checking records for what was largely uninhabited jungle, but as tourists and their money arrived, several powerful families from elsewhere in Mexico began claiming that, in fact, the land was theirs.” Nothing like good ol’ greed and capitalism to save the day.
8. Vanity Fair: “She never looks back”: Inside Elizabeth Holmes’s Chilling Final Months at Theranos
Sometimes I feel like the entirety of Silicon Valley is a reality TV show. I’m generally not a fan of California, but that whole area just has so much hubris, and apparently no access to the definition of responsibility.
Theranos, from its inception, seemed too good to be true. Founded by Elizabeth Holmes, a Stanford dropout, the company’s main product, the Edison, is “a small, consumer blood-testing device that supposedly used a drop of blood to perform hundreds of medical tests.” The product was so promising that Theranos raised “nearly $1 billion in funding for a valuation estimated at around $9 billion” at one point.
The legitimacy of the company and Holmes began to crumble when “John Carreyrou, an investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal, had spent nearly two years detailing the start-up’s various misdeeds—questioning the veracity of its lab results and the legitimacy of its core product, the Edison… Carreyrou had even revealed that Theranos relied on third-party devices to administer its own tests.” In the end, Theranos was investigated by “the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It had been sued by investors.”
9. Bon Appetit: My Restaurant Was the Greatest Show of Excess You’d Ever Seen, and It Almost Killed Me
Joe Beef in Montreal is known for its performance of excess. Co-owner David McMillan “built the company on [his] liver.” He spent days eating and drinking the best the world could offer, but when he was in his 40s, that stopped being enough. “All of a sudden, there was no bottle of wine good enough for me,” McMillan said. “I’m drinking, like, literally the finest wines of the world. Foie gras is not exciting. Truffles are meh. I don’t want lobster; I had it yesterday. What am I looking for, eating and drinking like this every day?”
After the managers of his restaurants held an intervention and he went to rehab, everything started to change. McMillan, now sober, is working to help others in his industry that might suffer from substance abuse. As for his restaurant? “If Joe Beef fades away to obscurity, so be it. If I die tomorrow, I’ve had a wonderful career. I thank all of the wonderful people who came. I gave it my best. I gave everything to you, the public. Now I have to take care of myself.”
10. The Paris Review: Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction
I love knowing what people read. I’m not nearly as interested in what people read for pleasure, as I am in what they have read multiple times, the things their minds constantly circle back to. The reading list in my mind is vast and varied: I read my favorite children’s book once a year, I usually wander back to Boris Groy’s Self-Design and Aesthetic Responsibility every couple of months, Anne Bogart’s And Then, You Act: Making Art in an Unpredictable World is also a favorite, and I’m always constantly reading something by Elizabeth Bishop and Susan Sontag.
There is always the argument the people read less than they used to, but “more independent bookstores are opening than closing, and sales of print books are up—but authors’ earnings are down. Fewer Americans read for pleasure than they once did.” The results are a mixed bag. Personally, most of my friends are always reading something new, and for as much as I read, I probably read the fewest books out of everyone, preferring articles, short stories, and poems.
Sven Birkerts has always been skeptical of what would happen to reading. Written 25 years ago, Birkert’s The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, which is comprised of 15 essays on reading, was less worried that people would stop the practice altogether than he was of the dissolution of “privacy, the valuation of individual consciousness, and an awareness of history—not merely the facts of it, but a sense of its continuity, of our place among the centuries and cosmos” that the sustained reading of the print format offered. I don’t think the issue is so much that people don’t read anymore, but that “we don’t read the same news; we don’t even revel in the same memes. Our phones and computers deliver unto each of us a personalized—or rather, algorithm-realized—distillation of headlines, anecdotes, jokes, and photographs. Even the ads we scroll past are not the same as our neighbor’s.”
*All images taken from reference articles*
Have a suggestion for next week? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”