28th of August: Bank Holiday Reading

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

14th of August: Wintering in the South

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