The Internet is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 3/19/23

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The internet was good, but also a little shocking, this week. Highlights: Azealia Banks, Law Roach, John Cotter on sound, cosmic burials, a FedSoc judge, Olayemi Olurin, Amber J. Phillips on the Oscars, Deloris Ja’A’Ja baker, Ja Morant, and the banks. 


Dazed: The A-Z of Azealia Banks

Azealia Banks says a lot of problematic and harmful things. And yet, I still really fuck with her—especially the way she so eloquently reads people for filth. This comes out in her music which is “playful and energetic and deeply original. It has the gilded sheen of invincibility. It’s brash, raunchy, intoxicatingly confident.” But the very unfiltered way in which Banks moves is also the thing that has gotten her into trouble. 

Connor Garel beautifully captures the complexity and nuance of Banks and her music in the profile, attentive to how “she can be commanding and authoritative in one moment and sensitive, almost fragile, in the next. She speaks in the longform and never offers a one-word answer. It’s a way of being I’ve encountered most often among people who desperately want to be understood, and it surprises me that so few people seem to understand her.” Perfectly expressing one of Banks’s fundamental contradictions, Garel wonders, “What does it mean to be given the gift of language and then told that you’re misusing it? To have so much to say and find the people around you can’t stomach it?” 


Elle: Justice for Law Roach

Legendary celebrity stylist and icon Law Roach abruptly announced his retirement this week. Known for his work with Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, and Celine Dion, among others, Roach made the announcement via Instagram writing, “my Cup is empty….. thank you to everyone who’ve supported me and my career over the years. Every person that trusted me with their image, I’m so grateful for you all. If this business was just about the clothes I would do it for the rest of my life but unfortunately it’s not! The politics, the lies and false narratives finally got me! You win … I’m out.” While Roach didn’t explicitly state what the “false narratives” are, and the internet surely had its theories, “Roach is a Black man working in fashion, which is a business as awe-inspiring as it is cutthroat.” 

Roach’s style is marked by his ability “to combine sartorial history with the current zeitgeist to create a conversation,” and propelled some of his clients into the stratosphere. And he did this, while also taking up space for himself. He gave visibility to the industry through his “willingness to be interviewed, and television appearances on America’s Next Top Model and Legendary all allowed him to serve a multitude of roles. Above all, he lets his clients be seen while he himself is seen—a bold move in an industry where celebrities are prioritized above anyone else.” 

I am not at all a fashion person, but it isn’t hard to spot when someone was styled by Roach—and that was a glorious sight. He will be missed by red carpets around the world. 


Guernica: Sound Shadow

John Cotter has slowly been losing his hearing. Unlike a lot of progressive hearing loss, he hears high sounds better than lower ones. The source of Cotter’s loss is unknown, but throughout the process of getting, and getting used to having hearing aids, he learns a lot about hearing and speaking, learning that “air molecules are always moving, colliding and wan­dering back, but we can lend them direction by widening and narrowing the vocal folds in our throats as we force more air out of our chests.” Cotter’s journey isn’t about getting back to his old self, and learning tofeel like a new self, but one that’s comfortable in his body — or trying to be.”


Baffler: Heavenly Bodies

Last week I went to a conversation between the artist Dario Robleto and Ann Druyan, curator of the Voyager golden records.  An “audio-visual record with 90 minutes of storage and a billion-year shelf life,” the golden records were “loaded with the sounds and images chosen to tell the story of Earth if the probes ever encountered intelligent life.” Druyan was secretly engaged to Carl Sagan when the record was created in 1977 and after asking him “if she recorded her brain waves with an electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (EKG), could aliens eventually read her mind?” She tried it, the results of which became the penultimate track of the reccord. The conversation was part of the programing for Robleto’s current exhibition at the Block Museum at Northwestern University, “The Heart’s Knowledge: Science and Empathy in the Art of Dario Robleto which asks, “What does one gift the only woman who’s heart and mind have left the solar system?”

Ann Druyan’s heart and mind are the only to leave the solar system, but companies are now offering space memorials. Celestis was the first company to complete a space burial, and frames them “as a shot at immortality, realized among the stars.” Where “space once seemed to be the ultimate reminder of human mortality and insignificance, but now it seems to represent the opposite—yet another domain for human domination.” This is a far cry from the poetics of Druyan’s gesture. But we are living on a dying planet, and “space, presumed to be a void, becomes a convenient landscape upon which desires for eternal life can be projected and feelings of loss can be negated. This impulse to prolong our existence in the cosmos—whether alive or through a space burial.”


The Nation: Protesting an Anti-Trans Trump Judge Isn’t Disrespectful, It’s American

Conservative Federal Society judge Kyle Duncan visited Stanford University’s law school earlier this week and was given the welcome he deserved. A Trump appointee, Duncan is “one of the leading conservative judicial culture warriors crusading against LGBTQ rights and is virulently anti-trans. As a lawyer he has argued at the Supreme Court against same-sex marriage, supported same-sex marriage bans at the state level, and was the lead litigator defending North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill,’ which prohibited trans teens from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity.” 

Stanford students met Duncan with protests, and “many also stayed to listen to his speech, which he refused to give, and tried to ask him questions, but he wouldn’t answer them.” While judges haven’t always been viewed as politicians, many of them—including Duncan—act like politicians, and “shouting at politicians is our most protected speech right.” Ducan is trying to act like the victim, “because being a “victim”—and then using that status to justify antidemocratic measures to defeat your enemies—is how you get ahead in the Republican judicial promotion sweepstakes.” Sir, no. 


YouTube: Olurinatti: The Show

AAYYYYYYEEEEE! Movement lawyer and political commentator Olayemi Olurin finally has her own YouTube show, Olurinatti! Olay is one of my go-to people when I want to debunk copaganda, and offers excellent abolitionist analyses. This channel is truly a gift!


Instagram: Amber J. Phillips on the Oscars

The Oscars took place last Sunday in LA and I was unimpressed. I don’t think Jimmy Kimmel was a particularly engaging host and WHY DID THEY HAVE TO DO AUNTIE ANGELA LIKE THAT?! Angela Bassett—along with Stephanie Hsu, Hong Chau, Kerry Condon, and Jamie Lee Curtis—were up for Best Supporting Actress. And Curtis won for her performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once despite the film having a majority asian cast AND Hsu, who was also in the movie, being nominated in the same category! 

In this post, Amber J. Phillips does a great job of explaining why it is fair that Auntie Angela (and people) is disappointed by the upset, and also the fuckery of Curtis winning for a film with a cast of majority Asian folks that had better performances, and roles more integral to the plot. 


Twitter: Deloris Ja’A’ja Baker on Women’s Basketball

I’ve always been a casual basketball fan. But, over the past year, my viewership has gotten more serious. The national championship tournament is in full swing, and there is no better women’s basketball coverage than Deloris Ja’A’ja Baker on twitter! I’m up way too late way too often listening to Baker and his friends discuss all things basketball on Twitter spaces like the one linked. Truly one of the best accounts I’ve followed recently. 


Deadspin: Ja Morant’s off-court drama continues to escalate

While I might follow the basketball girlies, I do not really follow the men’s side of the sport. I barely knew that Ja Morant played in the NBA until recently after a series of events involving the young star. On Wednesday Morant, who plays point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, was suspended eight games by the league for conduct detrimental to the league.” A few weeks earlier, Morant flashed a gun at a club on Instagram live. However, Morant has already missed 5 games while “seek[ing] treatment related to his ‘unhealthy responses to stress,’” and “when Morant returns from his stay in a Florida treatment facility, his suspension will likely be over because the league is factoring in time missed.”

People that follow the NBA, like DJ Dunson here, are also saying that “the NBA let Morant off easy” as this incident was just the most recent in a long series. He has “allegedly punched a teen after a pick-up basketball game and reportedly threatened him by flashing a Glock.” Although no chares were filed, Morant “also allegedly rolled up to a high school volleyball game with his crew to confront another teenage girl who was smack-talking his little sister.” Further, he allegedly pointed a gun laser at the Indiana Pacers during a game in Memphis in January. 


CNBC: Why regulators seized Signature Bank in third-biggest bank failure in U.S. history

The banks are not okay. Well, at least some of them aren’t. Last week Silicon Valley Bank was taken over by the government after there was a run on the bank’s assets. Then, First Republic looked susceptible to a run, but “declared that it had more than $70 billion in untapped funding from the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase.” According to my father, an economist, this doesn’t appear to be super bad, but that is also contingent upon the recession and other economic forces like continued increases in interest rates.


Header Image: From Dolly Church's article in The Baffler Magazine

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