The internet was insightful, but also FUNNY this week. Highlights: the angels of the Nile, the importances of hanging out, the railroad industry, Chris Brown, rap’s carefree Black girls, Little Simz, Ariana DeBose, Janelle Monáe wins at basketball, and Fannita isn’t giving back that Pyrex.
Atmos: The Angels of the Nile Are Dying
The Nubian people have lived on the Nile River for millennia, developing a deep relationship and bond with the water. In the 1960s they were forced off of their land due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, a structure that “stopped the Nile’s natural cycle of flooding and radically transformed the river’s ecosystem. Today, much of the sediment that once enriched the soil fails to pass through the dam.” Now the farmers are forced to use pesticides that pollute the river’s water and increase the risk of low water levels and drought due to climate change. Despite all of this, the Nubian people still sing to the water, and the “songs [serve] as an archive, a witness to the cruelties their singers endured.”
Granta: For the Love of Losing
Sometimes I take a risk, just, to see if I can get away with it. This started when I was 15 and applied to boarding school without telling my parents. I got away with it, was accepted and they let me go. Once I followed a stranger I had just met around Rome. For most of the day I was sure something bad would happen, but instead I got invited to dinner at the American Academy. Then just over a year ago I moved to New York and quit the job I moved for after just a few months. I’m still in New York, and still trying to figure out exactly what will come of that risk.
In the 1990s, Marina Benjamin dropped out of her PhD program and became a professional gambler. In looking back at that time, Benjamin posits that she probably “was toying with loss itself—as one might toy with fire!—trying to figure out at a time of profound change in my life, my entry into the adult world, just how much, and what kind of loss I could comfortably tolerate.” Reading this made me a little envious of Benjamin, to want to take a risk myself.
Slate: The Case for Hanging Out
Before the pandemic, I used to do a lot of hanging out. I would go on errands with friends. I frequented the same bars and coffee shops, becoming friends with other other regulars. I would randomly run into someone and spend the rest of the day doing who knows what with them. But since the pandemic, I haven’t spent as much time in the streets, and I haven’t gotten to hang out as often, or with as many people. All of this is impacting, in various ways, my friendships and social life and this article from Slate concurs.
Americans are increasingly having fewer and fewer close friends: “In 1990, 63 percent of Americans reported having five or more close friends. In 2021, only 38 percent did. On an average day 20 years ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Time Use Survey, 38 percent of Americans socialized or communicated with friends. By 2021, that number was down to 28 percent.” Sheila Liming, professor and author of Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time, is “[worried] that some combination of smartphones, the COVID pandemic, and changing social norms have rendered an entire generation incapable of casual socializing.” Perhaps the solution for that generation, and for all of us, is to spend more time together doing not much at all.
The train derailment and chemical spills in East Palestine, Ohio was predicted years ago from those who work in and follow transportation regulation. In 2017, during the Trump administration, “Industry lobbying sunk a federal regulatory initiative to mandate electronic braking systems on rail cars carrying hazardous and flammable materials,” and trains continue to increase in weight and length while being deregulated.
Then late last year, rail workers went on strike over understaffing and safety, and “the Biden administration’s pusillanimous decision to side with the rail corporations—half-hearted chastisement on the issue of sick leave notwithstanding—reverberated in the aftermath of the East Palestine derailment.” Erik Baker breaks down why we are in such a dire place, and how “the government’s primary focus was not on relieving suffering but on punishing dissent.”
Paper: Chris Brown Calls Out People Who ‘Still Hate’ Him
Last week singer Chloé Bailey announced that Chris Brown would be featured on her new song ‘HOW DOES IT FEEL.” Bailey immediately faced backlash for the collaboration because Brown assaulted Rihanna when he was 19, and “face[d] allegations of abuse from his next girlfriend, Karrueche Tran, who in 2017 secured a restraining order after Brown threatened to “kill her.” As recently as last year, he was sued for drugging and raping a woman on a yacht in 2022.” Further people, most notably Kiely Williams, criticized Brown for using Black women to rehabilitate his image.
Brown went on the offensive, urging people to forgive him for his past on an Instagram rant, and pointed to the double standard between him and white celebrities like Mel Gibson and Sean Penn. While he does have a point, that does not negate an established pattern of abuse. Bailey is not the first person to face backlash over working with Brown, but is the risk really worth the reward?
UPROXX: GloRilla, Ice Spice, And The Carefree Black Girl Backlash
Over the past few years, women in rap have been on the rise. Starting “in 2018 when Cardi B showed up to kick the gates off their hinges with ‘Bodak Yellow,’ every summer “brings us a new it-girl in rap. Coi Leray, Flo Milli, GloRilla, Ice Spice, and Latto have all seen their fortunes rise precipitously with what seems like just one song.” And they are rapping about what they want to despite rap’s misogynistic double standard.
Rather than performing for that gaze, “women’s concerns — mainly turning up at the club, but also dealing with f*ckboys, hustling sugar daddies, and flipping transactional relationships to their advantage—are at the forefront of women’s raps.” The rise of these rappers are bringing to the forefront rap’s misogynism and colorism (which are byproducts of our culture at large), and “rejecting the twin roles of matron and mule for Black men’s anger, spite, and frustration at being sidelined in America’s racist system.”
YouTube: “Heart on Fire” – Little Simz
I’ve been listening to Little Simz’s most recent album, NO THANK U, on repeat since it was released in December. This past week she performed ‘Heart on Fire’ on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and was “backed by the Harlem Gospel Choir, B String Quartet and members of The Late Show Band.” This is the first live performance that I’ve seen of any songs from the album, and I hope there are many more to come.
Vulture: Ariana DeBose Did the Thing at the BAFTAs
I did not watch the BAFTAs but Ariana DeBose’s opening performance has been EVERYWHERE. The number “was a tribute to the nominated women and included covers of “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” by Aretha Franklin and Eurythmics and “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. Between songs, DeBose took the time to do a post-Hamilton rap homage to the nominated women of the night—‘Angela Bassett did the thing / Viola Davis, my Woman King.’” The performance, which immediately went viral, is one of the most cringy and entertaining things I’ve seen in a while. DeBose “gave us something so earnest yet so wrong that it comes back around to being pure camp.”
According to Vulture, the austerity of an awards show, and “the seriousness of a heartfelt tribute to the underappreciated women of film meeting a dedicated yet completely incorrect performance that makes this opening ever-more compelling to a Twitter audience that both lauds these queens and takes joy in unintended awkwardness. It’s naïvely bad in a way awards shows rarely achieve.”
Rolling Stone: Watch Janelle Monáe Participate (But Not Score) in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game
The NBA All-Star Celebrity game took place last Friday and Janelle Monáe was the MVP. She might not have scored any points, and she might have “continued to play defense on her counterpart despite her team having possession of the ball on the offensive end, resulting in Coach Wade having to explain the fundamental rules of basketball,” but she looked like she was having the time of her life. I would watch a lot more sporting events if Monae played in them.
Twitter (via TikTok): The Battle for Pyrex
Lmfaoooo! It is a known fact not to give someone a dish in the good tupperware. Ben, Amber’s husband, didn’t know this and gave Fannita some pasta in Pyrex. Amber is now understandably made, but, as Fannita said “Amber, you got got” and you are never gonna see that glass Pyrex again.