Bit late this week, sorry. Also a bit short, as I’ve been on holiday so not consuming quite as much content as I usually do. All-round disappointment, really. Just use it for some post-sunday-lunch perusing.
Song of the week is off Frank Ocean’s new album, which isn’t really new anymore, but if you will insist on exclusivity windows for streaming services, I’m going to arrive late to the party. It’s good though. The Internet is all mediocre cover versions, so I assume the copyright lads are on top of it. Have a Spotify link.*
- First off the bat is a piece I don’t actually think is that good? Clearly I had some motive for including it in the list but I think it’s mostly to make fun of it.** Basically, I think there’s interesting technical and strategic analysis of a near-future conflict in the Baltic Sea, which is worrying but worthwhile. But it’s framed around this sub-Clancy fiction which is kind of terrifying insofar as what it says about the psyches of all the people involved.
- Pretty sustained, no-holds-barred piece on Blair’s legacy
- Fairly surreal profile of Valentine Strasser, who (almost accidentally) became President of Sierra Leone aged 25 after a 1992 coup.
- Long history of Cyprus and how (mostly) Britain has made a mess of it.
- It’s worth reading this profile of a life-long forger just to get the context for the headline (“If I sleep for an Hour, 30 People Will Die”)
- Second week running I’ve got an interesting piece just named after a “genre” of clothes. This, on ‘boyfriend’ clothes.
- This story of a Scottish island community buying their land back and prospering is pretty cool.
- This Emily Reynolds bit on how we experience cities through memory etc. was really interesting and resonated a lot, I think.
- The Pizza Express/McDonalds theory of the Labour party authentocracy has been circulating on my Twitter timeline for a while. Adding Spoons into the mix might be a stretch but I love it.
- Another great essay from The Good Immigrant on sex and tokenism. I’ve bought the book now so I’ll probably stop sharing them.
- Rik what does the funny kitchen implement reviews went and did SAS training. IDK. it’s good though.
- This is sort of poignant on European night trains and how they were accidentally killed off.
- Speaking of killing off, this story from the frontlines of the war on rats is pretty great.
- Megan Nolan writes so beautifully.
- Retelling Big from the mother’s point of view changes the whole film.
- I know I complained about Fresher’s advice lists last week but I promise this one is worthwhile.
- this is spectacular:
*was thinking of expanding this feature into a little fortnightly Spotify playlist, and I might still do so but cba this morning.
**IMO I’d just give up reading this week, come back on the 23rd***
***please don’t go away
Chrome is crashing constantly so compiling this week’s list has been like pulling teeth. Just so you know the effort I go to for you.
I’ve been listening to Runaway a lot recently, more so than I have in ages, and it’s so good. But also, my thumb keeps slipping on Spotify and giving me the other Runaway. Which is also kind of really good too? Which is nice cos normally when you slip and pick the wrong song on Spotify it’s a stupid string quartet cover version.
- Kind of grimly interesting on how the US government has reformed its approach to the families of hostages
- Among certain circles, British decolonisation and counterinsurgency is sort of held up as a model of “hearts and minds” COIN. This history of the brutal and sordid war in Malaya sort of punctures that eight billion times.
- Speaking of sordid! We’re still selling arms to Saudi Arabia and contorting ourselves into knots to justify it. I wish I had been writing my dissertation this year rather than last year this is much juicier than “technically India was doing some mass killings in the 90s”.
- This refugee housing project in Athens is kind of inspiring and nice.
- Little reappraisal of the blitz from Richard Overy, probably interesting to me and me alone but oh well it’s my blog
- So another author came out with a high profile and misguided intervention about appropriation and identity politics that I didn’t bother to engage with because life is so short,
like I feel death’s cold hand on my shoulder every time I consider wasting my time with these rants. But anyway there were a couple of measured responses at least – from Nesrine Malik and Jia Tolentino.
- New book out this week, The Good Immigrant, sounds interesting and valuable. Conveniently, loads of the essays contained in it have been published elsewhere. You’ve probably seen this thing by Riz Ahmed on airport security, it’s good. And this by Kieran Yates on being in between two worlds is really great.
- Kinda beautiful little story about working as a cleaner I guess?
- Oh god why am I reading and sharing U.S election stuff again
death’s cold hand is tight on my shoulder – anyway. Seen a lot of disingenuous shit about young people being about to hand the election to Trump. This was quite sharp on the bad logic of those calls.
- This is nuanced and interesting about porn. It’s in The New Yorker! So it’s classy and refined, but it is about porn so IDK careful where you click.
- On [ugh] athleisure. But actually pretty fascinating on evolving vestimentary norms and class and gender and stuff and also yoga pants.
- Had never heard of the Lucas Plan, tellingly. Sounds amazing.
- Honestly this is kind of US-centric from the title on down but it’s a little bit of an amazing tirade against autumn or “fall”. It’s good.
- ugh Freshers’ content.* But this is actually Emily Reynolds being really good and gentle on taking care of your head when you leave for university and I probably wish I had had it in 2011. Alas I am not followed by many youths so this is not really saving a life. Also this little bit of #content was quite amusing and #relatable and I hate everything.**
- There’s a bit in here where someone suggests deporting the whole UCL campus to the countryside. Not unrelated to my previous point on Freshers, but I say to that plan: good. Anyway it’s important and eye-opening on cycling infrastructure and how much of an uphill struggle reforms to make London more liveable are. Also it’s about that god-awful road that runs through UCL so some nostalgia value for all my alumni readers.
- This is lovely. Literally just eighty million words by someone out to drink their first ever coke but it’s so good.
- Stumbled across this very cool and pretty website, Roads & Kingdoms the other day. Largely travel writing, I think. Worth having a trawl through this it’s all kind of fascinating. I pulled out this one about a ruined palace in Kabul and this one about meal planning in the Antarctic.
- Sort of bleak account of Real Madrid’s (and I imagine other clubs’) youth academy
- I liked this by Carl Anka on the value of the player character in the new FIFA being a black guy.
- Some nerdery here on how Wales played the FIFA rankings to set themselves up for the Euros.
- Cool tribute to The Blueprint, fifteen years on.
- This “history” of Use Your Illusion seems to mostly just be quotes from Slash’s autobiography which is disappointing but still.
- Don’t think I’ve ever read something properly about Kanye and 50 Cent’s rivalry but this is cool.
- IDK, art. On the one hand the story of this woman who sought out famous photographers to take her picture is bizarre and interesting, but on the other, *fart noises*
- Is Usher making a comeback? That’d be nice, I miss him.
- Deep dives on celebrity gossip news are so compelling to me IDK why. On the end of Brangelina [ugh].
- This article needed about fifty more photos of cool book covers because book covers are great but still quite interesting on re-editions and re-brandings of old-ass classics.
- There’s probably a more mature response to all these luxury flat owners complaining that the Tate’s viewing platform overlooks their apartment but my main reaction is “lol rekt”. Sorry.
That’s that! Have a lovely Sunday! xx
*I wish some of the lowest parts of my life weren’t tied up with such regularly re-hashable forms of content. Every September, till I die probably? I’ll be compelled to read more shit lists and relive the whole sorry time.
**I was the keen little nerd that set up a Facebook group for Max Rayne house before leaving for university. Don’t know why. I remember developing deep and abiding hatreds of several people in my halls of residence that never really faded and don’t think I ever got anything positive out of the group. Just a little bit of fun anecdote for you there, loyal readers.
There’s an actual 9/11 piece in the list this week, which I guess appeared online because of the anniversary so it’s not that much of a weird coincidence. Anyway I’ve been up since 8 (I miss curtains) and just been dreading writing this one up all morning. Have been reading blogs not books on the commute recently, so the list is just ballooning, it’s vile. As such, let’s get right to it.
Think I listened to this song three times on the way home last night, having hardly heard it since I was about 14? It’s possibly tacky but I love it dearly* so have some Stevie.
- War on the Rocks ending up publishing a sort of debate series on sectarianism in Iraq and Syria and the Assad regime and all sorts that I read in completely the wrong order and in too scattered a fashion to really summarise and process and judge the arguments, but if you’re interested in that kind of thing, there are worse things to spend half an hour going through. It started with this two-part article on how sectarian divides in Syria and Iraq are misunderstood and abused by policymakers, then there was a rebuttal on Syria, and finally a kind of fascinating look at how the Syrian regime has crumbled into militias and warlords.
- This is a very long piece on the French war on terror, in French, that took me the best part of a morning to read (turns out gyms aren’t conducive to speed-reading) but is also worthwhile. Ignore the annoying hashtag jokes, France is like that sometimes.
- Have you been complacent about the Korean peninsula as the source of our doom recently? Me too, but their latest nuclear test is a scary thing.
- Decent write-up of Dilma’s ouster
- Another scary place! The new Filipino president is kind of terrifying and this story on his drug war is… damn.
- Speaking of the war on drugs, Fabric, eh? eh? I never went to Fabric and probably would have hated it** but what a bleak story. Whole lot of good stuff got written mourning it to some extent this week. Shortlist and Thump tied it into how London is not for the young anymore. Sadiq’s depressingly ineffectual role, here. And the drug angle, here. Reminder – the police investigation into the club was called Operation Lenor. ugh.
- Meanwhile, look at these perplexingly sober kids at Reading festival this year.
- On the misguided criticisms of “””””””milennials””””””” for spending frivolously instead of wisely saving up for ??????.
- FFS there are four articles on British politics this week I’m ashamed. After Theresa May’s ascent to power, there was a sort of “oh thank god a competent leader” vibe – I’m glad Abi took the time here to question that. A cool Aditya Chakrabortty piece on teaching assistants in Durham organizing in protest against vile contract changes. The rare piece that could do with doubling in length, on how Harlow is processing the recent murder of a Polish man. Finally, even as I am eternally grateful to have turned 18 a year after the 2010 election*** this is kind of an interesting interview with Nick Clegg.
- Look I really like the Imperial War Museum because I’m a little ghoul child with the ability to suppress my politics for the sake of convenience and also because there’s a T-34 and a Sherman just parked in it and that’s cool. But this savaging of how much propaganda is baked into the permanent exhibits is accurate and necessary I guess. tanks tho.
- Over-long, possibly, and IDK what I make of all of the arguments, but an actual unique and thought-out and informed take on the burkini debate by an actual muslim woman is worth reading anyway.
- Christ there’s something surreal and terrifying about this piece on sexual assault on long-haul flights.
- Also terrifying – Bridget Minamore being very good on the fear of walking home alone at night and the makeshift weapons and safety rituals women have to create. Side-note, I finally got around to watching Bridget doing some poetry reading and it was actually good which is weird cos poetry. Check it out, it’s funny and sharp.
- So here’s that 9/11 piece. I think I was old enough to remember 9/11 but it’s basically just been an event that has shaped the world I lived in more than an actual concrete thing I can remember. Reckon that’s why it’s always so compelling reading about the minute-to-minute experience of people who were there in some capacity. This oral history of Air Force One on 9/11 is even more fascinating! It mixes the standard fascinating personal responses people had with the high-level political stuff and man I was reading this on the way to the pub last night and considered waiting outside just to finish it it’s gripping.
- Interesting study of what made the British intervention in Sierra Leone work.
- Don’t forget, antibiotic-resistant beasties are gonna fuck us all up! And it’ll be chicken’s fault.
- This was kind of fun about Tindering across Europe. (remember Tinder?)
- On the superstitious rituals we have with technology.
- Putting Deliveroo and Uber in a hundred-year history of scientific management systems is interesting (lmk if you can’t get through the paywall here)
- Kinda still hope robots will save us all, but why would anything good happen? “the future will kill us all”
- Bit overblown, bit US-centric, bit overlong, but quite cutting on foodie delusions. And on that note, this compelling profile of an absolutely bizarre restaurant stunt lie thing had me kind of bemused for a good while.
- Absolutely fuming that Wikipedia isn’t actually skint tbh
- Lovely profile of lovely Chance the Rapper
- Having played games on shitty computers most of my life, let me tell you – it isn’t worth it. But this fella’s interesting, taking it to absolute extremes.
- Michelangelo’s David might just topple over jsyk. Really liked this piece.
- This week’s good-ass sports-writing is on O Fenomeno. Beautiful.
- This week’s good-ass food-writing is on hot chicken in Nashville. I don’t even like fried chicken! but wow it’s good.
- Sweet explanation of the joys of Let’s Plays and watching people play computer games on the internet.
- Figs are really weird!
- Don’t know if I’ve shared it before but I think Ed is almost at the end of his “Winning the Lottery with Nicolas Cage” ordeal and it’s worth browsing his archive.
- Finally, Hussein Kesvani is good on the bleakness of the gym.
*also the missus is on holiday so she won’t see this and ruthlessly mock my taste. was tempted to put up something off the new Carly Rae Jepsen album to take maximum advantage of the freedom.
**all the tributes left me feeling some weird kind of way, like when I read about the British teenage experience or what university is like for people who didn’t dislike it and I just feel a bit like I’ve got my face pressed up against the glass, bemused at other people’s lives. idk. don’t read my footnotes imo
***somehow the knowledge that I would have definitely voted Lib Dem and regretted it feels less embarrassing than it would be to have actually done so and regretted it. slim consolation tbh
Here we are again and that. Got some links to share with you and it’s already past 12 so I’m going to cut the pre-amble cos I want to have breakfast.
Song of the week reappeared in my life because it’s been buried in my gym playlist for years and since we last spoke I have started going to the gym again (yes lads). It’s from Tom Morello’s short-lived second supergroup, Street Sweeper Social Club, and it’s the special edition with a whole extra guitar solo. Naturally I lived for this song when I was 17, but it’s still cool. SSSC are worth checking out – all the tacky lyrics and chunky guitar of Rage, but slightly cooler.
- The good thing about studying political violence is you sort of get a sense of how bad and intractable things are. Think Fisher does a good job of drawing on that literature to explain how bad Syria is, as if that was in any doubt.
- There’s a possibility if you described this piece to me (without telling me who wrote it – Heather is good) I’d have rolled my eyes a bit but it’s kind of poignant – a review of a documentary about a group of Syrian refugee women putting on a classical Greek play
- This is premised as a look at how Trump undermines nuclear orthodoxy and destabilises deterrence but it’s also kind of an intriguing peek into the terrifying logic of deterrence.
- The small mercy of the sheer violence of the image of armed men undressing an old lady on the beach is that it’s spared us some of the “actually you don’t understand laicité” #takes. Also IDK I’ve gotten better at ignoring irritating opinions because epistemic closure is actually extremely good for my blood pressure. Anyway, this is good and quick (could do with being longer) tbh on the issue, and this is a good interview (in French) with Olivier Roy on the burkini more broadly.
- Obviously has to be remembered that the author of this piece is a white American lady denied entry to the country, not a Somali asylum seeker, but it’s still a grim look at the realities of border controls. I don’t think she’s unaware of her privilege, and that sort of makes it worse – this was probably a relatively nice experience.
- Two thoughts occurred reading this piece on how Brexit could still take years – a) exhausting b) They’re going to have to hire loads of civil servants – if I had graduated a year later I probably would have been in contention for a round of the Civil Service Fast Stream with the laxest entry standards ever, but I’d have been three times more indebted and also actively participating in ruining the country so you know. Swings and roundabouts.
- This is interesting on the policing and security challenges ISIS pose in Europe but with one quibble. You’ll know what I mean when I say that police officer was not sipping whisky like some sort of Raymond Chandler character. That did not happen.
- I almost want to read this one again it’s wild. The author was in JFK airport when rumours of a shooting caused a mass panic and it was almost as bad as if there had actually been an attack? It’s terrifying but gripping.
- Bowling is kind of cute and sad somehow, and never more so in the case of this fella who bowled so hard it nearly killed him (apologies and hat tip to Sam Diss)
- My girlfriend looked over my shoulder and saw me reading this and raised an eyebrow at me but it’s really interesting! How female athletes deal with having boobs, basically.
- Ticket scalping remains some vile nonsense.
- The teens with their social media! What are they up to? I don’t know. This was really cute and respectful though – the author actually listened to some teens explain the norms of their social media behaviour and didn’t just make up stuff and judge them.
- Golby being broken down by the awful Mrs. Brown’s Boys is good enough to get through my no-Golby rule imo.
- This is wonderful and kind of life-affirming and go read it.
- The inventor of the Super Soaker had a really interesting life and sounds like a nice guy! So nice all round. (he also has a nice voice if you want to click through to the recording)
- OK so Vice is doing this series on university, partly as a response to the government’s decision on student grants, partly in a naked attempt to grab some of those sweet sweet “terrified about leaving for uni and googling” clicks. Anyway. Lot of it hasn’t been great because university content is pretty dire. Also, reading about university just makes me feel weird and sad and I hate it. Nevertheless – this piece on how despite fees and everything, university still offers opportunities for working class kids is important, and Golby (sorry) also did an actually useful and entertaining “list of stuff to take to university with you” piece which again, weird and sad but.*
- On infantilising apps and stuff.
- I used to love Smooth (it still bangs tbh) and I love that it has become a meme.
- The Guardian’s Lost Cities series is so good, honestly worth just making yourself a big-ass pot of coffee and working your way through the lot on this fine bank holiday. This one is on a sunken city off the coast of Egypt.
- Good Beth McColl piece on mindfulness.
- This is funny – a gathering of ex-girlfriends.
- I’ve never listened to Kate Nash but still liked this tribute to it cos it’s a good piece.
- On the other hand, I love Carly Rae Jepsen and I love E-MO-TION but I thought this was maybe a bit overwrought even though I normally like the author? Is it just me? Idk why I even shared it, it’s my list. whatever.
There we have it, lads. Enjoy carnival, or enjoy chilling for the bank holiday, or if you’re not in London or the UK IDK what you do? Have fun regardless x
So yesterday I left the keys to my flat on the kitchen table and wandered to take a train south of the river, where I live now. Having spent my whole time at university within about a half hour’s walk of the Holloway Road (apart from when I was in Spain, which was a bit further), it feels a bit weird to leave it behind. I imagine nothing’s stopping me from popping back to The Coronet but… why would I, I guess. Anyway, this week’s list finds your curator in a funny sort of mood in Catford.
Struggled a bit with song of the week but then remembered this being in a discover weekly thing (and cos A$AP shows up top in the alphabetical order of my archive]. Fair warning I’ve only heard it once so I don’t know if the lyrics are vile. soz if so. but there’s a bit where Kanye rimes #FOMO with four more and it made me giggle so. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
[ffs Kanye’s verse isn’t in the (quite cool-looking music video) if you want to hear that good-ass rhyme.]
- I’ve decided I’m not going to share anymore Corbyn thinkpieces after this one. I’ll probably keep reading them because I hate myself and don’t want to be happy, but I’ll not be besmirching the reading list any further with this tedious election. If you’re the kind of deviant who also wants to read more, I’ve been saving only good ones with good opinions, so hit me up through other means and we’ll do a shady back-alley handover of #takes. But this is the last and only take I’ll share. How Owen Smith can, and will, win.
- As Trump starts ramping up the “rigged election” talk, this is a good look at how to secure the American voting system. Sort of fascinated to learn computer scientists recommend against electronic ballots.
- Pretty cool look at what it’s like covering a presidential campaign for the reporters.
- There’s always a risk of point-missing with pieces that try and translate Anglo concepts of identity politics and race or religion to France. This one is helped by the fact of there actually being an indigenous Black Lives Matter movement in France to report on. Very interesting (think it gets bits slightly wrong but).
- Kind of lovely report from a “glitter against fascism” protest in Scotland, and a very interesting piece on working-class anti-racism: it’s always sort of taken as read in certain patronising circles that the working class are massive racists and this has to be dealt with and pandered to so this was a nice corrective.
- Really encouraging report about the wildcat Deliveroo strike this week. There’s a strike fund going, possibly linked to in that article. Worth chipping in if you can.
- This is sort of poignant and lovely – if you’re going to die, may as well have a party.
- You’ll probably have seen this comic:
Well the artist updated it in light of current events.
- So the Olympics haven’t been a disaster yet, which is nice. I thought this was a fairly nuanced look at the problems with how the media has sensationalised the issues Rio and Brazil faces, setting a really low bar for politicians to clear. Also just quite a funny guide to being a tourist in Rio. This, and a later article just made me want to book tickets tbh.
- When I saw this article about reading lists as mixtapes excerpted in Caroline Crampton’s good newsletter*, I was like “Ha! A succinct and lovely mission statement for my endeavours”. Alas, the piece waffles and goes on a bit long and idk. A couple of bits really struck a chord with me, namely how the merest scrap of praise (hint) for the lists makes it all worthwhile.
- Good interview with Jack Urwin, fella what wrote the very interesting-looking book on masculinity
- I’m sort of really intrigued by bullet journaling! If I could do it in Evernote I probably would but cba buying a notebook. Anyway this looks at why it works from a brain POV.
- Christ this piece on an adult summer camp repulsed me from the start because it sounds like something I’d hate and feel so unhappy at and then it actually became quite troubling and dark as it went on, vindicating my cynicism.
- Look, I don’t know what to make of this. The sea is dark and full of terrors, and whales are at war with each other but in a kind of Kosovo/Sierra Leone humanitarian intervention way? People are calling this sweet but I don’t like the idea of political whales. Drain/boil the sea imo.
- Unapologetically nostalgic look back at old Shoreditch.
- Alain de Botton is wank, isn’t he? When I was in Amsterdam he had done a project with the art museum where he put little post-it notes with inane comments on everything and I hated it and him for it. This is funny on the School of Life (that weird thing next to the LGBT bookshop on Marchmont street**)
- This is sweet! Norway might give Finland a mountain so they can have a taller highest point. It probably won’t happen but man, wars have been fought for less.
- Fuming here, I’ve had… none of these dishes I don’t think. Embarrassing. Need to go back and just eat my way around the country clearly.
- Tend to associate veganism with like kind of tossy food and tricky substitutes and stuff, so this was interesting, just some good tips for not spending loads but also not living off potatoes. Bit Yank-centric I guess.
- I work in an office now so I’m extremely into thinking and talking about Meal Deals. So the Meal Deal Facebook group sounds great (even though apparently fame has ruined it).
- Imagine a pet that you have to leave in your will cos it’ll outlive you and keep on growing. Nightmare. Tortoises, cute, can fuck a peach right up, but lot of work imo.
And there we are. I’m gonna go see whether my new local Spoons holds a candle to the Coronet. *** Have a lovely week all xxx
*always good to keep an eye on the competition [vastly more successful versions of this thing] – how would you lads feel about that sort of more excerpt-y approach to this list? I share more articles than most but rarely quote from them, but that seems to be the standard practice.
**”Gabriel this is pretty insular of you isn’t it, assuming all your readers will get this – “ No look shut up. I am reasonably sure I know all of my readers by name and know they’re all intimately familiar with Marchmont Street, so shush. Benefit of an infinitesimally small readership is that little personal touch.
***I’m not, it’s like not even 12 here and also I know for a fact that the local Spoons is grim
Sometimes I have a lot of chat to give you in the preamble and this bit goes on forever. Today, not so much. Allez.
Just finished watching Bojack Horseman and I’m feeling some kind of way so have this song from the finale it’s lovely.
- It probably says something about my awful approach to the world that I have spent a good chunk of the past month looking forward to reading some horrific climate change news to take my mind off the short-term apocalypse in favour of the long-term one. Anyway, California is burning and also Siberia is burning and the planet is fucked. On the other hand, these lads jump out of planes to fight fires which is pretty dope.
- Good fun facts – Turkey’s coup involved a good chunk of the military and could have succeeded. It involved an airbase that holds American nukes. Good debate on maybe moving them away perhaps – you’ve got to love the idea of there being a “go-to guy for defending apocalyptically bad ideas” though. “Shit how do we make this a debate? Call Steve.”
- I think this one leans a bit heavily into the “white working class” stuff as an explanation for Brexit but then also Lanchester writes so wonderfully that I don’t mind.
- So that hell-school that inflicts psychological warfare on small children made the headlines and we all remembered how bad free schools are but this piece from a while back that I finally got round to reading makes the case that they are, in fact, extremely bad. like wow.
- “a dialectic of suffocating evil” is a good phrase
- Thought this was quite lovely on the Titanic.
- One of the many tragedies of gender imbalances in science and engineering is that we don’t have robot tampons yet (or something, I didn’t know how to pitch this one)
- This on “nice” abusers must have been incredibly hard to write and click publish on but I’m glad Emily did because it’s brave + powerful.
- On a not-dissimilar note, some outrage after the murder of Qandeel Baloch.
- Always come away from this sort of piece unsettled and worried and wanting to text my mum/sister/girlfriend/the girl who works in Tesco to just see if they’re fine cos Christ. On how appetite is condemned and punished in women.
- Also, slightly a lesser of two evils situation here but a vegan going in on clean eating is pretty cool. The Ruby Tandoh piece linked within is also good.
- Fuming here, I’ve just started doing Responsible Financial Decision Making and then I was reminded that the pension system is fucked.
- You’ll probably have heard about the Byron thing but just in case you wanted some more of the grim details.
- Little Ye-interlude here. The Wolves video is pretty cool even if the lyrics remain A Bit Fucked. It’s no New Workout Plan though (of which both the visuals and the lyrics are Fairly Fucked TBH). Also this photoshoot of Kimye is pretty lovely so if that’s your bag there you go.
- It’s great, everyone was super gutted when Grantland went away and everyone lamented the loss of its’ great writing, and then I think it came back as The Ringer and just immediately started doing the stupid shit I loved about Grantland again. EG: this scientific roundup of the best fictional basketball shots, or this roundtable entitled “When did you first realise Taylor Swift was lying to you?”. good content.
- Also extremely good content – harambe memes and this guy going deep on harambe memes*
- This is like fucking Marley and Me all over again. I knew it was going to be a sad article about a dog and I know how those end up but I still read it and still felt sad. stupid dog.
- Abbi and Ilana are probably exhausting in real life too, aren’t they? This was a nice profile though.
- Not gonna lie I don’t think I’ve heard Tarantino’s movies being called lacking in humanity but this was kind of a good rebuttal to that opinion I don’t share anyway I guess.
- I’m still largely on board with Pokemon Go even though the gameplay is lacklustre as hell and all I catch is fucking Drowzees. This is nice.
- Golby betrays his greatest work here, but someone needed to be bold and come out against summer. He also does some good #analysis of Vin Diesel though.
*if you can hack Kriss’ more wordy-“I studied philosophy”-ish pieces, he did a good one of those on the dead ape. I’m not linking it because I resent being made to feel stupid because my eyes glaze over when you say “signifier”.
There’s chat of a second referendum for Scotland or Brexit, there’s chat of a snap general election, there’s another Labour leadership election and I just want it all to go away. That’s not to mention continuing horrors in the headlines every day. So I’m not saying this is deliberate but there’s a definite slant towards non-news, non-miserable stuff this week. Still plenty of misery of course, because this is how we live now*.
Song of the week was going to be an old kinda mournful Izzy Stradlin one that I loved when I was 17** but then I started listening to Chance the Rapper’s new mixtape and I decided as far as posturing like I was cool goes, this is a better choice. Also it’s exuberant party music despite being a man complaining, at length, about having to give people lifts. Up there with Kanye complaining about his cousin across two or three tracks on TLOP imo. Too short though.
- OK a little bit more Brexit stuff then we’re packing it in. This was a miserable peek inside the Remain campaign, that, as ever, reassures me that it wasn’t my failing to show up to phonebanks and street stalls that did for it. This is very insightful (it’s also done about eight rounds of my twitter timeline so apologies if you’ve seen it before) on the sociology of Brexit. Goes beyond (very tempting) sneering and condescension.
- I’ve seen mercifully little of this kind of thing, but a good summation of why [spoken in a Very Man Voice] it’s not immediately a feminist victory for the Tory leadership to have been fought between two women.
- I can already predict at least one incensed comment on this article in particular, so caveats – it’s an analysis of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy approach and how it differs from Obama’s written from well within the establishment understanding of American foreign policy. So naturally the baseline for “how much war can you reasonably support before becoming a hell-person” is set a bit higher. Still fairly detailed which was nice.
- Speaking of hell-people, Kriss did one of his perverse savagings of Tony Blair and it was delightful.
- I think I’m mostly going to miss The Toast because of Mallory Ortberg but the intermittent gems like this piece on black America’s search for a home will also be missed. It’s beautiful and lyrical but also some historical research and interviewing and stuff. Good.
- There’s been a really horrific sense of routine in the recent murders of black men by U.S police and I think these pieces do really well at conveying how exhausting and grinding-down it is without falling into complacency. This one is just heartbreaking on what black people feel they need to do to be seen as human.
- This interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates is really nice – think the interviewer is a friend of his so it’s very intimate, almost. Also, dw, it’s a Playboy link, but they’ve transitioned their website to generic Man Content now – not even sure how you’d find a boob on there.
- The author of this piece on alcohol and sex wrote a book on drinking last year. It’s been in my Amazon wishlist since she did the promotional tour*** but I’ve always been kind of wary of actually reading it. Anyway this was good.
- Elon Musk might turn out to be a Bond villain and Mars sounds properly crap but guess he’s the closest thing we have to science fiction on our miserable little rock.
- This piece is so strange! Foie gras that isn’t the product of cruelty! (apart from the inevitable bit where the goose loses its liver I guess) A little Spanish fella in love with his geese! Idk. if it was a film I’d find it exhaustingly quirky but we need some joy tbh.
- Fair warning this one is beautiful but inevitably kind of tragic. The journalist profiles a hospice nurse and just follows her around as she does her job. It’s quite lovely but will make you think about death for the rest of your commute so idk time it well I guess.
- There’s something faintly unusual about this profile of Tiger Woods over the past ten years because it’s fascinating and insightful and poignant but also like… he’s a private-as-hell man so the only way they got all these facts seems to be through lots of betrayals by people close to him? Seems rude. Read it anyway imo.
- This is so lovely and also the first case I’ve ever seen for poetry not being vile. Going against a (wise and reasonable) policy of ignoring pupils’ backgrounds, this English teacher got a group of girls to open up about their home countries through poetry and what happened next will bring a smile to your face.
- The best thing about this trolling-guide: a) the list of alternative topics to Slavoj Zizek it offers, b) the caveats it offers at the end to ensure it’s not used for evil and bullying.
- This guy is sort of capital-R Rational to a fault (like I think that’s his #Brand) and extremely long-winded, so pinch of salt I guess. In this instance, it’s a decent-enough discussion of tolerance and the outgroup.
- Two good short stories. The first is joyful and (white-as-hell voice) I quite liked the Nigerian-British bits. Maybe elements of Junot Diaz? IDK. The second is quiet and sad and poignant.
- What is it with the second person writing today? This feels less like a short story but kinda counts. On leaving an abusive relationship.
- This interview with a woman who had to have an extremely late-term abortion has so many overlapping layers of horror in it.
- Speaking of horror, (apologies in advance), these publicists weigh in on whether Taylor Swift’s newest relationship is a set up and these peoples’ lives sound so clinical and managed it’s kind of grim.
- Mostly worth it I think just for Abi’s faintly bemused face throughout and also for the clear suggestion that ol’ Laughs hasn’t learnt a thing, but quite an intriguing little video interview.
- My main feeling on Pokemon Go is this: I have two phones, one which is old and works, and one which is new but has no SIM Card. Pokemon Go does not run on the former, and I can’t connect to the internet on the latter outside of my flat/office. I am cut off from the phenomenon and hate it. This was an early review that I think captured what’s fascinating about it. This is a guy playing it without even having a phone and it’s ridiculous but also, man commits and I respect that.
- Sam Diss appears to essentially conclude here that goals going in off the crossbar is like/better than sex. The Sistine Chapel line is, beyond a doubt, the best thing I’ve read all week. Dunno, despite all my efforts I can’t get into football, but really love reading the Mundial lads go extremely deep writing about it. *shrug*
- Also extremely good analysis – going well deep on the music in the last episode of Game of Thrones. How good was that music? Better than you remembered.
And there we have it. Have a good fortnight, if you can. xx
*I periodically remember that whatever happens with Brexit, Corbyn, ISIS, Trump, it doesn’t really matter because in a few decades the seas will rise and the world will start to burn and as I stand waist-deep in Islington-upon-Thames I am going to curse every minute of my life I wasted reading empty thinkpieces. Oh well.
**sometimes I think I’m growing up but nothing puts the lie to that more than the knowledge that if the Guns N’ Roses reunion tour comes to the UK I’m there in a flash.
***you know, writing the same article/interview for several different outlets with minor cosmetic variations