The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week

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I didn’t spend much time on the internet this week, but when I did it was rather insightful. Highlights: Bonnaroo for oyster nerds, Caroline Calloway, Amy Sherald’s second act, Tina Turner, Kathryn Scanlan’s quotidian work, Susan Sontag’s contradictory multiplicity, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s openness, a possible future of hyperloops, the Democratic debate, and Popeyes BYOB chicken sandwich. 

1. Deadspin: Competitive Oyster Shucking Is Real, Decadent, And China’s Best Party

This article is ostensibly about competitive oyster shucking culture, but it’s also about the relationship food trends have to social media and economic growth. It is filled with funny descriptions that are stated matter-of-factly, like oyster shucking festivals being Bonnaroo for oyster nerds,” or how Matt Dean Pettit—a “cookbook author and entrepreneur” and “seafood influencer”—is “trying to make freezer food cool again by marketing his hip line of microwaveable lobster bowls that feature millennial-friendly ingredients like kale and craft beer.” It is a fascinating glimpse into an extreme foodie culture and the history and cultural symbolism of oysters. 

2. The Cut: I Was Caroline Calloway

I’m interested in how social media turns people into aesthetic objects, how it acts as a mirror of our desires—both as individuals and society. I don’t follow many “influencers” on Instagram, but Caroline Calloway was one of the early ones. Her college friend Natalie Beach, the author of this essay, “was the one who was actually there, standing right next to her” taking pictures and writing captions as Calloway rose to fame, and this tells one person’s perspective on repercussions of an influencer lifestyle. 

Beach remembers Calloway with a fond criticality, as someone who “had always been obsessive and confident,” qualities Instagram intensified “like sunlight through a magnifying glass.” Someone “caught between who she was and who she believed herself to be.”

This story seems wild, but also normal at the same time, capturing the coming of age in a world saturated by social media. It is sentimental and sensitive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more like it will come out. 

3. New York Times: Amy Sherald’s Second Act 

WE LOVE YOU AMY! And so does Roberta Smith. This beautiful review of Amy’s solo exhibition, Amy Sherald: The Heart of the Matter…, at Hauser & Wirth describes it as “a magnificent, stirring show” and “startlingly spare, in an enormous space.” I just moved away from the east coast and am sad I probably won’t have the opportunity to meet her nearly life-sized figures “face to face, in an experience of mutual evaluation.” If you can, please go to this exhibition for me!

4. New York Times: Tina Turner is Having the Time of Her Life

Tina Turner is 79, living her best life in Switzerland with her husband, Erwin Bach, and a clear view of Lake Zurich. She hasn’t revealed the full story of what happened between her and Ike, and doesn’t know if she could ever forgive all that he did to her, but “‘Ike’s dead,” Turner says. “So we don’t have to worry about him.’”

Turner is apparently also super into astrology: “she mischievously requested every last record company executive’s date of birth and then researched Bach’s full astrological profile. (He’s an Aquarius, thank God. Ike, obviously, was a Scorpio).” Bach also “knows that his wife is a star and he is not, and he feels that it is very important to honor that distinction.” 

This profile also mentions projects Turner is involved with, like Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, based on her life. But the wit, charm, humor, and confidence of Turner that this article beautifully captures make it such a funny and fascinating read. 

5. Believer Magazine: An Interview with Kathryn Scanlan

I’ve recently become obsessed with Kathryn Scanlan. I learned about her through her new book Aug 9—Fog, in which she “‘edited, arranged, and rearranged’ a small selection of text she’d made from a stranger’s diary found at an estate auction.” 

There is something profoundly unadulterated about quotidian practices, and Scanlan seems to relish them in her work. It is always a fun project trying to get behind a piece of writing and into the mind of the writer, and Scanlan has made a book by doing that. I haven’t read much of her work, but I find myself constantly reading about her. 

6. The New Republic: The Remaking of Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag is perhaps the thinker I most consistently love. I avidly follow the Twitter account @sontagdaily, which post excerpts from her journals that correspond with the day’s date, and am constantly rereading her work. This review of Benjamin Moser’s interpretation of Sontag’s life via the new biography Sontag: Her Life and Work is courageous, noting Sontag’s “confounding, contradictory multiplicity” found throughout the biography as Moser tries “to tell the story of Sontag’s mind—in all its restless and passionate engagements—alongside the story of Sontag as a woman moving through time and space.

7. Lit Hub: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Feats of Shame and Openness

Karl Ove Knausgaard is known for his six-volume biography, My Struggle, published between 2009 and 2011, which features “incredible descriptions of the most ordinary, everyday activities—from making a cup of coffee, to holding an infant’s tiny bottom, to mowing a lawn” and unrelenting openness. It is epic in length, making it “impossible to sum up. Summary just feels wrong when you’re talking about a novel that’s essentially about expansion, inexhaustibility.” I don’t know if I have ever read a review written like this, as a conversation transcribed then annotated in a personal diary, but I love it, and it makes perfect sense for My Struggle—it is at once a summary and the embodiment of the work. 

8. Jalopnik: ‘There’s No Such Thing As Cold, Hard Reality’: Meet The Hyperloop’s Truest Believers

I want hyperloops to exist. I’ve never learned how to drive thus am interested in forms of transportation that are not cars. While the idea of vacuum trains has been around for a while, the term hyperloop is new, owing its creation to “a now-legendary 2013 white paper those in the Hyperloop community call ‘The Alpha Paper,’” written by Elon Musk, which “revived the idea of vacuum trains over 57 pages replete with his informal techno-futuristic style,” bring new interest to the forgotten topic.

Ideally, hyperloops “incorporate the best aspects of every transportation mode and none of their drawbacks. As fast as a plane, as convenient as a train, and more environmentally friendly than a monorail.” No hyperloops exist yet, but believers think it could happen sometime in the next decade. And “to the Hyperloopist, the past is failure, reality is a mistake, and the future is success. Everything is on the table, and then taken off the table and shot through a tube, at 700 mph, caution to the wind.”

9. YouTube: ABC News Democratic Debate – WATCH THE FULL DEBATE (2019)

There was another Democratic debate. Everyone could fit on the stage in one night this time. There were a lot of jokes. It is still early in the election cycle but you should watch it. 

10. Twitter: Popeyes Chicken

I still have not gotten my Popeyes Chicken Sandwich as it is still sold out. BUT the chain now has a BYOB (bring your own bun) campaign and “It’s basically The Sandwich! Only no mayo. Or pickles. And you bring your own bun… Really it’s just three tenders…” As @AsteadWesley tweeted, “wtf is this spirit airlines energy.” I want to try the damn sandwich! 

*All images taken from reference articles*

Have a suggestion for next week? Email with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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