31st of July: I’m Running Late

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.

Bye now.

*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”.

17th of July: Someone Make The News Stop

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

3rd of July: Still Mourning Brexit

Genuinely didn’t think we’d be here today, guys. But weirdly, the fortnightly thing has sort of dulled the impact somehow. Feel like I’ve had a week of Labour shambles and slow-rolling doom on the Brexit front and it’s quite weird to look back at the last post when things were still a bit more innocent and I was a bit more complacent about maybe being able to go back to the continent some day. Anyway. Fair warning, it’s like 60% stuff about Brexit, and naturally, there’s very little that will be of any comfort if you’re still miserable because there is no good news. So like maybe scroll through to the bit about pork and booze later. Here goes.

Am sick and tired of YouTube letting me down with song choices, so might just commit to using Spotify – you can all use the web player tbh. Genuinely surprised at how much I’ve been enjoying the new Radiohead album (ordered a thing with a digital download code included the day it was released – only got to hear it when it came out on Spotify. good) so have a song off of it.

  • Start with the good news. Even though we might be starting to miss him as we face down the horrors of the next PM, it’s quite soothing to know that David Cameron is going to go down in history as a complete fuck-up.
  • OK so this is how we’re proceeding. I’ve got a chunk of stuff about the politics of Brexit, more or less. Then some stuff about people being sad about Brexit. And then the quite chilling stuff about how Brexit’s kind of lifted up the rock with all the racism under. Scroll through, pick and mix, as you wish.
  • How did we get here, I hear you ask? Well. This is the rare long-ish piece that could stand to go for a couple thousand words longer because it seems to skimp a bit, but an alright outline of how Euroscepticism took over the Tory party. From the same people who predicted the result a couple weeks ago, a good analysis of how the Leave campaign won. Absolutely chilling prediction of how the negotiations will play out.
  • Family rifts over Brexit feel kind of inevitable but also pointless and idk. The borough I grew up in was one of the few London ones to vote leave, so I don’t feel like I can trust the local shopkeepers anymore – sort of get it I guess. This one’s a bit over-wrought, possibly, but quite nice to see an emotional reaction to Europe beyond disgust and exhaustion. And this on Europe as a safe space for people of colour now being lost is very upsetting, as is this on how it feels to be an ethnic minority in Leave Britain.
  • Surprisingly little on the Labour coup this week, but this gets to the heart of it I think, and also transitions nicely into the final section – Corbyn is under attack for not being racist enough.
  • After years of “listening to legitimate concerns” about immigration, leading to a massive uptick in reported racist incidents after the referendum, it’s time to stand up for immigrants (as a kind-of-foreign, little bit of self-interest there). One kind of well-meaning idea on how to do so, the safety pin, fell short as Hussein Kesvani explains here, which I think just leaves us with this useful guide on how to intervene safely in incidents of racist harassment. This is where we’re at I guess.
  • Some optimism, maybe? What would a politics without xenophobia look like? And what are the next steps for the left after Brexit?
  • And this is sweet! Social initiatives in Berlin are using food to help refugees find community.
  • More optimism – the different points at which Donald Trump is now likely to back out of the race to save himself embarrassment and create optimal levels of banter.
  • It’s a bit academic-y, but these forgotten narratives of subversion during the First World War are fascinating. Wasn’t all outright mutinies or noble sacrifice.
  • I think this is just a short story about pork? It’s quite cool, also about Jewishness I guess. Might make you hungry.
  • Man this is dispiriting. Fella put on death-row for murdering his family by arson (can you murder with arson???) but as you’d expect from an eight-million word New Yorker feature, there’s more to the case than it seems*.
  • Another one of these baffling stories of “I flew first class around the world and it only cost me three Twixes and a grapefruit” idk
  • This thing about making peace with your body hair is quite sweet but also worth reading for blokes just to be reminded of the sheer exhaustion the other half have to go through.
  • Hella late, but another beautiful tribute to Latin night at the Queer club.
  • Lovely and sweet article about London cornershop owners.
  • I’m now getting to that Golby point with Beth McColl where I might just stop linking her articles but this, on sexting, is very incongruous because it’s probably quite rude but also very cutesy and idk. I liked it.
  • Finally, this. I’m torn, I honestly am. When I first saw this article, the first GIF called Peggy something else (I’ve forgot) which ticked me right off. They’ve since edited it, leaving only some quite #goals (as the youth say) suggestions for a home bar.

And we’re done! Started with Brexit, ended with copious amounts of liquor to help you cope. Have a lovely fortnight xxx



*finally made a little excursion into the back of my Pocket queue, where it’s all long-reads and short stories. Terrifying. There’s also like scattered extremely out-of-date reactions to the news which are quite entertaining to read a little bit and then satisfyingly clear out. e.g. the piece on how Turkey’s before-last election was a sign of hope and optimism, three months before terrorism and civil war and another election which basically reversed the first one I think, seemed to basically stamp out any remaining hope and optimism. “entertaining” is probably the wrong word.