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

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