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

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An Unsentimental Education: ‘Never Rarely S [...]

I wasn’t really interested in, and didn’t have the capacity for, longreads this week—many of which were about the pandemic. Instead, I focused on shorter stories, and quick snippets from the internet. 

Highlights: Remembering David C. Driskell, the last train trip before everything changed, music as the “landscape of our future,” Zsela’s haunting covers, Doja Cat might be the Shakespeare of our time, LiLo is back, Paul Chan loves Cats, a couple broke up over buried beans, veganism is not like the civil rights movement, and 5G did not cause coronavirus. 

1. ARTnews: Late Art Historian David C. Driskell Taught Us to See Beauty in the Overlooked

David C. Driskell—the scholar, artist, and curator who was pivotal in creating mainstream dialogues about African American art—died on April 1 at the age of 88. This moving article about his life sits at the nexus of obituary and personal essay. 

Throughout the piece Taylor Renee Aldridge writes about what she has learned from Driskell, and describes how his “approach was holistic in how he tended to the artistic lineage of Black folks, and why we attend to a method of beauty.” In reference to his legacy Aldridge writes, “we should consider what it means to work against the grain of continued erasure when there have been little to no examples of how to go about such an ambitious task,” questioning “What is required of a person to insist that they belong in ‘mainstream’ spaces guided by ignorance? How does one develop the courage to hoist and insert the authenticity of a culture that has been continuously misunderstood, misrepresented, or made invisible?”

For Aldridge and many others, one of Driskell’s most important and profound lessons was “teaching us all how to see beauty in places that were intentionally overlooked.”


2. LitHub: The Last Train Trip Before Everything Changed

I’ve never learned how to drive. When I lived on the east coast for six years I either walked everywhere or used public transportation to get around. My favorite means of travel are by train, bus, or foot. I like the captive time of traveling. 

Lauren Markham “always enter[s] a state of enchantment on trains—with the world, even with myself. My frenzied brain slows and I’m almost immediately drawn to the page to write.” In February she booked a 34-hour train ride, from Sacramento to Denver, as a bit of a “self-styled residency” hoping “to clear the clamor and connect with some essential and oft-neglected aspect of myself, some essential and oft-neglected aspect of the exquisite world outside my window.” Between then and now the world has irrevocably changed. In this new world of stationary quarantine, “one of the troubles with writing, now—one the troubles I’m having writing this essay—is that in our forced isolation grief gets in the way, and so does fear. I guess this has been true for me for longer than I’ve realized. Moving fast kept the fear and grief at bay. But now there’s nowhere to go.”

I moved back to Michigan this year and I’ve had a harder time writing than in the past few years. No doubt this is because I enrolled in graduate school, but I think it is also because I spend less time alone while in transit—I’m no longer dashing off to a different city every week, or moving across a city. Last year I spent hours upon hours a day alone traveling from place to place. In quarantine, writing has gotten even harder.


3. Guernica: Push Play

I’ve never spent a lot of time listening to or thinking about Dolly Parton, although I know many people for whom she has been extremely influential, and many of them are queer. The people I know that love her do so because “there’s a mesmerizing and ironic artifice to Dolly Parton—a sincere and relatable duality. She’s one of those icons in whom seemingly opposing forces naturally connect: poverty and folksiness against the power of enormous success, vulnerability and tenderness against effervescent self-assuredness, a story of honesty and heartache under an image so artfully plastic it seems to turn in on itself.” For anyone who has struggled with who they are, this sentiment is highly relatable, and “throughout most of our lives, we toggle restlessly between the safety of conformity and the live wire of rare beauty.” Dolly Parton is that rare beauty.

Sometimes music, and loving Dolly Parton in third grade as writer Chris Dennis did, can teach you something about yourself before you even know it. Music can be “an unseen fossil record buried in our memories, and it signals—often inexplicably—to the landscape of our future self.”


4. YouTube: Zsela - Song To The Siren (Live at Whitney Museum, NYC 1/28/20)

There are a couple of people I can never resist including in this list: one of them is Zsela. This week the singer released three covers she recorded over the past few months: “I Believe in You” (Talk Talk), “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (Nina Simone), and “Song to the Siren” (Tim Buckley). All of the covers are hauntingly beautiful, but this one is my favorite. 


5. YouTube: Doja Cat Remixes Roddy Ricch The Box + More on Insta Live

Doja Cat read rap lyrics and porn comments on Instagram Live wearing chainmail, remixing them like a Shakespearean character with a perfect British accent. My favorite part of this is when she reads the lyrics to Roddy Ricch’s “The Box.” It is so funny that she can’t even keep a straight face. If Doja Cat has chainmail sitting around, I wonder what other costumes she has and if we will get more videos like this. I hope so!


6. YouTube: Lindsay Lohan - Back to Me (Lyric Video)

Not gonna lie, this isn’t my favorite song but does that even matter? Because LINDSAY LOHAN RELEASED NEW MUSIC. In this club bop Lohan sings, “My life is full of ripped up pages/I’ve been weak, contagious/But I’m comin’ back, I’m comin’ back to me.” Let’s hope that these lyrics are true because we always need a little LiLo in our lives. 


7. Cultured: Recommended for You: Paul Chan on Why You Should Watch Cats

I have to admit I had no interest in watching the new Cats film until I read this interview. Then I watched Cats. With Chan describing it as “the perfectly wrong movie for these profoundly wrong times. Imagine a movie so perverse and misguided as to think that it would be entertaining to see people act like how we all generally feel, given the punishing times in which we live in: naked and scared animals fighting over scraps in trash bins… It’s not the hero we deserve, but it’s the hero we need,” it was kind of hard not to want to give the movie a try. Honestly, it is a great pandemic movie. 


8. Reddit: TIFU by demanding that my girlfriend show me where she buried our beans in the woods, causing her to break up with me.

Life right now is stressful for everyone, and it is taking its toll on many relationships. For Reddit user ThrowRA_BeanDrama a situation with his (ex-)girlfriend burying beans he bought for the pandemic became so intense that he “tried to put my foot down, and I’m not usually a foot downer but there are rare issues where compromise is out of the question, and I foolishly decided this was one of those issues. I demanded to know where the beans were buried and I told her if she was going to bury beans I paid for in the woods that I would move out.” Well, she broke up with him over the buried beans, moved out, and now he has a broken heart, doesn’t know where she buried the beans, and is “paying full rent instead of 50% which is a huge financial issue for me.” Damn. 


9. Slate: My White Girlfriend Told My Black Mom That Eating Vegan Is Like the Civil Rights Movement

This is included here because of the headline, which is some of the best clickbait I’ve seen in a long time. The writer of this Dear Prudence question is biracial—“mom is black, dad is white”—and is dating a white woman. They are “both vegan, but my girlfriend is much more vocal about it. We recently went to my home for dinner… Over dinner, my girlfriend began comparing eating vegan to the civil rights movement, which my mom found offensive. I tried explaining to my girlfriend why these comments may have crossed the line, but she gets really upset. I don’t know how (or if?) I should try to talk to her about it again, and Mom refuses to talk to my girlfriend until she apologizes, and my dad sides with my mom.” 

Prudence responded by siding with the mother and explaining why the white girlfriend’s comments are racist, and questioning why the writer is so comfortable dating someone racist to begin with.


10. Verge: Why the 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories don’t make sense

There are A LOT of conspiracy theories about coronavirus, but this week a theory linking the virus to the rollout 5G networks and towers took over the internet. Apart from being bonkers, none of the 5G/COVID-19 theories make sense as the virus is in many countries that do not have access to 5G, “the frequencies from 5G can’t harm your body, and COVID-19 is caused by a contagious virus that is in no way related to electromagnetic waves. Even the general correlation between 5G and COVID-19 doesn’t stand up to scrutiny: they’re both global phenomena happening at roughly the same time, but as soon as you look at specific countries, the correlation falls apart.” Even though governments have expressly stated that 5G isn’t the cause of the virus that hasn’t stopped people in the UK from setting fire to a few towers. Do not do that. The theory is baseless. 


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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