I don’t know if it was me or the internet this week, but something felt frantic. Highlights: Logan Roy, handguns, wolves v. ranchers, Southern politics and mutual aid, therapy-speak, beating roulette, COVID-19, and AI covers.
Last Sunday Logan Roy, “the embattled chief executive of media conglomerate Waystar Royco,” died. He was on his private jet headed to Sweden. In recent years, Roy was marred by “declining health, embarrassing scandals and constant speculation over his possible retirement,” yet earlier this month “made it clear that he had no plans to go gently into that good night.”
The family held a brief press conference in which Siobhan Roy, the youngest child, confirmed that “the board will be convening in the next hours to decide on the leadership of the company going forward. This nation has lost a passionate champion and an American titan, and we lost a beloved father.” When asked about the Roy children’s role in Waystar Royco going forward, she replied, “We intend to shepherd it through whatever its future may be, but we’ll be there. We intend to be there.”
Logan Roy, who is a character played by Brian Cox on HBO’s Succession, will be missed in households across the nation.
I don’t own a gun, nor have I ever shot one. For a while now, I’ve mentioned to various people that I want to take a gun safety class to learn how to handle firearms. Based on who I say this to, and where they grew up, I get all kinds of reactions–from complete and utter disgust for ever wanting to touch a gun, to agreement, and even a few offers to teach me. The US is filled with guns, and while I do not want to own one, I want to learn how to safely be around and handle firearms in the case I am ever around one.
As well intentioned and safe as a gun owner might be, there is always room for error. With the P320, one of the most popular guns in the country, the error may not be on the part of the owner, but a defect in the design itself. This 8-month long investigation by The Washington Post and The Trace found that “more than 100 people allege that their P320 pistols discharged when they did not pull the trigger.” People injured “included both casual and expert firearm owners whose guns fired in their homes and offices and in busy public places such as casinos and parking lots,” and continue to live with physical and mental scars.
One of my good friends used to live in Lewistown, Montana, near where Katie Jackson grew up on her family ranch. My friend and I often talk about many of the things Jackson brings up in the piece—like why “you’d never ask a rancher how many cows they have,” and how many ranchers loathe wolves.
Unfortunately for Jackson, wolves are her favorite animal. While many people travel to Montana to see the wolves every year, for many Montanans, like Jackson’s parents, “No animal, even one on the endangered species list, was going to get between them and their livestock.” Throughout this sad, endearing essay, Jackson tells of her saga of trying to change her parents’ minds about the majestic animals.
I grew up in the Midwest, but my family is from the South, migrating from Mississippi to Michigan. I find myself constantly combating uninformed remarks about the politics of the two regions from people who have never spent time there, from people who “put the social problems we are willing to accept in exchange for the promise of individual opportunity in places that sound more sophisticated.”
In her most recent opinion column, Tressie McMillian Cottom explores Southern politics and how it fuses throughout the nation writing, “I keep my eyes on the South for a lot of reasons. This is my home. It is the region of this nation’s original sin. Nothing about the future of this country can be resolved unless it is first resolved here: not the climate crisis or the border or life expectancy or anything else of national importance, unless you solve it in the South and with the people of the South.”
When I first saw the title of this piece, I thought it would be something about Shel Silverstein, the American author and illustrator who is widely known for his children’s books. Instead, I ended up reading a fascinating piece about “the rednecks running a mutual aid auto repair shop in Alabama.” Zac Henson, founder of Automotive Free Clinic describes himself as a redneck using “the original reference: communist-sympathizing miners in West Virginia.” In a city devoid of public transportation, the AFC is a lifeline to low income residents, and was a way for Henson to combine his two loves.
I have had numerous conversations with friends recently about weaponizing therapy-speak, and how the internet loves to pathologize EVERYTHINGGGGG. The number of times I hear about boundary setting, or had friends flake out on plans due to “self-care,” or had people try to weaponize the rhetoric around therapy to me is astounding.
To be clear, I support self-care and therapy and understand the importance of being “able to set boundaries and advocate for yourself. Occasionally, though, the emphasis on protecting one’s individual needs can overlook the fact that someone else is on the other side of that boundary-setting.” In practice, however, when people “set boundaries in a way where you’re only considering your needs and not someone else’s [it] can hinder creating healthy relationships.” These streets are wild right now!
I’ve had ‘Beef’ on my Netflix watch list since the series first premiered April 6, 2023, but I’ve yet to see the show but I have followed the controversy! The show is about “two strangers who cross paths in a road rage incident that slowly begins to consume their lives as they retaliate against each other. What follows is pure and utter chaos, which includes catfishing, a kidnapping and far more.” Much of the controversy centers around David Choe, who plays a supporting character in the show, and his past accusations of “rapey” behavior.
In 2014, during an “episode of ‘DVDASA,’ a podcast Choe co-hosted with porn actor Asa Akira, Choe recounted getting a massage from a masseuse he calls ‘Rose.’ He said he got an erection during his massage and began masturbating, despite Rose being visibly uncomfortable.” Throughout the episode Choe elaborates on this encounter, describing a r*ape—or at the very least sexual assault—something that Akira points out and is disgusted by. Choe has tried to walk back his story throughout the years, saying that it was not “fact.” I’ve watched a clip of the original podcast and I believe him.
I love a good heist movie. And I love a good gambling film and this story reads like both! In 2004 Niko Tosa and two friends had casinos on edge when they found a way to beat roulette, a game that’s long been believed to be unbeatable. Kit Chellel “spent six months investigating the clandestine world of professional roulette players to find out who Tosa is and how he beat the system. The search took me deep into a secret war between those who make a living betting on the wheel and those who try to stop them—and ultimately to an encounter with Tosa himself.” I hope we get a movie about this!
On Monday, President Joe Biden declared the COVID-19 national emergency to be over. This came just over three years since COVID’s initial outbreak, and as most people are moving throughout the world as though it no longer exists. “Mask requirements have vanished from schools, many of which have also rolled back testing. Restaurants have ripped out their outdoor dining setups. Cities have removed masking requirements on mass transit, and the CDC has eased its recommendations on masking in hospitals and other healthcare settings.” All of this however, does not mean that the virus is no longer spreading or present. While the government is at fault for its response, “it’s also the fault of the media. Where once the media emphasized the risks of contracting the disease, now “too much coverage minimizes the health risks researchers attribute to the virus.”
Over the past few months, AI song covers have proliferated online. Record companies throughout the industry are “urging streaming platforms not to let artificial intelligence use copyrighted songs for training.” While not yet widely accessible, fairly believable covers of artists like Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) singing Avril Levign’s ‘Complicated’ are popping up online. I do understand how AI is infringing on copyright and intellectual property rights. But also, some of these covers are very fun and good!