The internet continued to be difficult this week. Things that happened: Harlan Crow’s other sugar baby, Art Forum and David Velasco, Maine mass shooting, Black Feminism and Palestine, Queen Latifah, Hasan Minha, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, and Judith Butler speaks out.
Now what in the actual fuck? Independent Presidential Candidate Cornel West has accepted a $3,300 from Harlan Crow—a GOP megadonor, Nazi memorabilia enthusiast, and sugar daddy to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. West has responded to the backlash about the news, and his statement, in part, reads “I am unbought and unbossed. Despite my deep political differences with brother Harlan Crow (who is an anti-Trump Republican), I’ve known him in a non-political setting for some years and I pray for his precious family.” Crow has also described West as a “good friend” in the past. I mean damn.
On Wednesday, a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine left 18 killed and 13 injured. The shooting initially took place at a bowling alley, before the shooter traveled to a bar and continued the rampage. Robert Card, “a certified firearms instructor and a member of the US Army Reserves” and the lead suspect has been found dead of an “apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound” after a two day search.
Tyler Austin Harper, a gun owner, used to teach at Bates College in Lewiston, ME, and still lives there questions if he too is culpable for America’s mass shooting epidemic. Before the shooting, Harper said that he “own[s] guns for hunting, for protection, for blasting clay pigeons out of cloudless October skies. I would have told you that I own guns because I come from a gun family and guns are some of the only things I have left from people I have loved.”
Today, he admits “I own guns because I like them and because I am an American and I’m allowed to and no one stops me. I own guns because—until this moment—gun violence was something that happened Anywhere else and not Somewhere close to me.”
Artforum’s editor, David Velasco, was fired on Thursday night “after the magazine’s publishers said there was a flawed editorial process behind the publication of a letter that supported Palestinian liberation.” As a response, another editor has resigned, and many artists and writers are boycotting the magazine, including Nicole Eisenman and Nan Goldin.
While disheartening, Velasco’s termination highlights “divisions over how to discuss the conflict in the Middle East have frayed yearslong relationships between collectors and artists.” Velasco is not the only person to receive backlash for the letter as “some collectors asked a museum to cancel a signatory’s exhibition and said artists would find their paintings in the trash. Gallerists also urged people to remove their names from the letter, and some signatories received death threats on social media.”
In all seriousness, no one has a resume like Queen Latifah. To say that she has done everything is an understatement: “She’s the first solo female rapper to have a gold album; later this year, she will become the first woman rapper to receive a Kennedy Center Honor. (She’s also the first hip-hop artist to land a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.) But in addition to her four rap albums, Latifah, now 53, has released two jazz albums; hosted two daytime talk shows; and appeared in more than 60 films, many of which she developed with her management and production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, founded in 1995 with her business partner, Shakim Compere.
By 2003, she was as famous for her high-cheek-boned face in cinematic close-up as for her voice, becoming one of CoverGirl’s first full-figured Black models, and later creating her own cosmetics line with the brand geared toward women of color. As the star of the spy thriller “The Equalizer,” now approaching its fourth season on CBS, she became one of the first Black female leads on an hourlong network drama.” The list of achievements goes on and on, it is no wonder Time Magazine named her one of The Greats in its 2023 Greats issue which “celebrates four talents across music, film, art and fashion whose careers are a master class in curiosity, composure and defiance.”
Black Women Radicals hosted a “on the importance of the Black feminist literary and political canon and the mandate of Black feminist commitments to a free Palestine.” The online panel featured Clarissa Brooks, Angela Y. Davis, Breya Johnson, Briona Simone Jones, and Jaimee A. Swift and discussed the “extensive, and unwavering tradition of Black feminist educators, poets, writers, organizers, and more who have committed to being in solidarity with Palestine.”
Britney Spears’ long awaited memoir, The Woman in Me, was released this week, and much of the coverage of the book has centered on Spears’ revelations are about her ex, Justin Timberlake, “who broke Spears’s heart by cheating on her several times, convincing her to have an abortion when she was 19, then breaking up with her over text.” While what Spears says about Timberlake, her father, and others that had control over her is truly awful, Rebecca Jennings argues that the true villain of her life and memoir is the press.
According to The Palestinian Health Ministry, more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israel-Gaza war since it began on October 7th. The list of names and identification numbers, released on Thursday by the Ministry, is more than 150 pages long, and more than 3,000 of those killed have been children. Yet, on Wednesday “President Joe Biden cast doubt over the figures, saying that he has ‘no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.’”
Biden’s remarks counter “human rights experts, including at the United Nations, [who] have long found the Palestinian Health Ministry’s data to be reliable,” and dehumanizes Palestinian people as the US continues to fund Israel, and disregards people like Wale Dahdouh, who had multiple family members die in an Israeli air raid.
In September, The New Yorker published Hasan Minhaj’s “Emotional Truths” by Clare Malone. The profile essentially accused Minhaj of falsifying and lying about his lived experiences of racism for clout and comedic content. Minhaj “was considered a front runner for the permanent host of The Daily Show before The New Yorker story was published (Puck News has since reported he was officially informed he will not be getting the job).” Malone’s profile has had a clear impact on Minhaj’s career, and this week he posted a video rebuttal of the profile filled with receipts, and explaining the difference between his work as a political comedian from his practice as a comedic storyteller. Malone and the New Yorker have released a statement standing by the profile.
Somehow, I have become friends with a gaggle of Swifties—Taylor Swift fans. I am not sure how this happened, but on Friday nights sometimes we gather to listen to Taylor’s new releases. This week, Taylor re-released her album 1989, and much Taylor news I had skimmed on Twitter but never committed to the annals of my mind was clarified. Since 2021, Taylor has been re-recording her first six albums as she has “been fighting for years now to manage the means, method of production, and distribution of her work.”
Her first record label, Big Machine, owns the masters of her first six albums. In her current deal with Universal (she signed with them after her contract with Big Machine was up in 2018) Taylor owns all of her masters. Ownership of her masters became public discourse when “Big Machine sold to private-equity group Ithaca Holdings, an entity owned by powerhouse music manager Scooter Braun. He then sold her masters to another company, Shamrock Holdings, for a reported $300 million in 2019.”
On Friday, released 1989 (Taylor’s Version)—all of the rerecords are titled “Taylor’s Version—and I’ve got to say, the album was fine, a bit didactic at times, but I actually enjoyed learning about this history. I guess I have to thank my Swifties.
Democracy Now! Spoke “with philosopher Judith Butler, one of dozens of Jewish American writers and artists who signed an open letter to President Biden calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.” A professor in the Graduate School at University of California, Berkeley, “Butler is the author of numerous books, including The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind and Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. They are on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace.”
Throughout the interview Butler explains the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people, why that word is necessary, and that “until Palestine is free … we will continue to see violence. We will continue to see this structural violence producing this kind of resistance.”