Not really into Eric Drooker’s cover this week. It combines three things I’m not super into: Impressionism, bicycles, and the color brown. I do like a good bridge though (I feel like this is something that a very rich Southerner or Englishman would say), so it has that going for it.
Talk of the Town
TotT starts a little less depressing than normal with a brief overview of the immigrant “crisis” going on at the border. It kicks off with a howler about how some republi-dummy mistook a busload of campers for children seeking asylum from violence-plagued Central American countries. Generally there is no way Republicans sound good talking about this stuff, hearing conspiracies about how Obama is doing this on purpose to create more Democratic votes from someone in a party (the person in particular being notorious forgetter-of-the-third-thing Rick Perry) who’s latest craven election strategies have been trying to disenfranchise voters and creating such a culture of gridlock in Washington that young people will lose interest is pretty hilarious. Also the right’s general rhetoric about America being the greatest thing in history but then being all pissed when people actually want to come here is pretty insane (there is some sort of simile about a rich person who just instagrams all the super expensive food that they eat but I can’t quite get it together). The next two sections didn’t really hold my attention, one was about a dude who is super famous someplace else (Mr. Met is in there too but it’s not about Mr. Met) and the other was about a museum where they get mass market stuff or something? I thought that museum was called the internet. Up next was a bit about the original Burt from Burt’s Bees and how he was and still is an actual hippy/farmer type. The upshot from this thing is that BURT’S BEES IS TOTALLY OWNED BY CLOROX, if you didn’t know now you do. I don’t use the stuff personally and you can use whatever in your life for whatever but if your personal branding is “local” and “independent” then you should probably drop the bees (also your favorite soap isn’t made by who you think it is). Lastly there is a bit about how the New Yorker’s website is changing and all this stuff is becoming available online (you can read a roundup of roundups of things you should read here). This is great unless you are like me and you put all the links for these stories into an email draft called “longreads” and look at it guiltily every time you add to the only slightly less pointless drafts with subject lines like “ideas”, “funny ideas”, and “food”.
Annals of Alimentation
This was a thing about the Paleo Diet which, kind of like Crossfit, seems like a thing for people who are really into the moral superiority that you get from religion but don’t really want to mess around with god or spirituality. I mean, anything boosted by a dude who wrote an essay about farming called “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” (I thought that was bellbottoms, ZING!) probably needs to dial it down a little bit. Elizabeth Kolbert gives the subject an only slightly less skeptical view than I do. As the article points out, a paleo diet in this day and age would be environmentally unsustainable across a broad population, so the whole thing gives off a little bit of an only the strong survive/culling of the human race vibe that should only be reserved for comic book villains.
Shouts & Murmurs
Did not read.
Onward and Upward with the Arts
Speaking of comic book villains, this article about three siblings who live together and sell crazy expensive violins makes me think that Rebecca Mead left out the part where when they’re in the same room together they can control people’s minds. The photo that accompanies the article makes it look like they’re about to eat a child right after they finish their music for dead people concert. ANYWAY, this article was mad boring, I couldn’t give a fig about the people who buy or sell or play or sit on or restring or make beautiful passionate love to violins that cost more than all the money that I and my friends will make in our lives put together.
The Political Scene
OH BOY, this one was a paaaaaarrrtttyyyyy. Joe Biden is weird and interesting and kind of awesome and a bazilion words on him are all totally worth reading. In a world of stern faced, manicured, downer politicians the Vice President is a wordy, toothy, vain ball of fun. This article does a great job of capturing a dude who is maybe at the end of his political career who may or may not be able to accept that as fact. To quote the great Richard Ben Cramer (who is quoted in the article) talking about the VP during one of his not so successful runs for president (this one from 1988, which shows you how long he’s been in the game) Biden has a “breathtaking element of balls… more balls than sense.” And that is what makes him awesome.
This is an article about Ronda Rousey, currently the best female UFC fighter in the world. I do not care about UFC. Anything that calls itself a sport but, now I’m paraphrasing from Kelefa Sanneeh’s article, needed to become more like wrestling to gain popularity is not for me. Ronda Rousey seems like a fine human being but this was kind of a snooze.
Did not read.
The Critics: A Critic at Large
This article proves that I will enjoy almost anything written about cold war spies even if it’s by a fakesmart ninny like Malcolm Gladwell. The story of Kim Philby and how his discovery as a double agent sent the western world’s intelligence community into an ouroboros of investigations for other Kim Philbys is well worn. The conclusion that the true damage that Philby and his ilk caused was the sowing of mistrust in a field that was already kind of shaky on that score is equally as well worn but it doesn’t make it any less fun to read about.
Did not read.
The Current Cinema
David Denby tackles the new Woody Allen movie which for some reason involves ANOTHER romance between an older man and a younger woman. JEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZZ Woody! It’s like you’re trolling us. I will probably not see this movie as it is also about old timey rich people in France or something and I don’t have time for that. Also reviewed, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final role AS A SPY, so I’ll probably see it even if Denby just liked it okay.
THIS ISSUE WAS TOTALLY FINE EVEN IF IT HAD A COUPLE ARTICLES THAT WERE ABOUT DUMB GARBAGE.
FOOTBALLZ is back for another season in September and I just got my studio space set up so here is the first in a series of promo posters/experiments. There will be as few as 3 but as many as ????????????????????? to appear during the season. ENJOY IT WITH YOUR EYES (if it makes you want to lick your computer screen that is pretty cool but you should see someone about your mouth urges)!
Happy G Day. Glove.
This one is pretty snoozy, a bunch of people swimming at Coney Island. I’ve never been out there myself but it seems like a really bad idea, esp if you do it with your mouth open which seems to be people’s M.O. according to this cover. Maybe Mark Ulriksen cannot draw people’s mouths closed.
Talk of the Town
The lead off of TotT this week is again a total bummer, this time about the situation in Iraq and how the US screwed that up pretty royally. The whole thing is true and painful to read and once again makes me feel like the world is totally a vampire and totally set to drain (e-ain, e-ain, e-ain). Next some blah blah blahs about like local government and net neutrality or something? I really could not remember what this was about and briefly skimming it again it still seems like something I don’t care about. It does mention Michael Dukakis and Paul Tsongas which allows me to reminisce about the more liberal and weirder looking/talking Democrats of the 80s/90s. Then we have something about Adam Levine who I do not care about at all. It doesn’t help that he (like Bill Paxton in the previous version of this “hang out with a famous person” thing that TotT does all the time) sounds kind of like a crazy person. Someone once told me that they were talking to the Maroon 5 guys and that their favorite band was Lightning Bolt but I think they were just talking to the bassist. After that there is a thing about a dude who gets people to bet on wild things (not the movie Wild Things because that would be pretty stupid, unless you were settling the bet on whether or not you could see Neve Campbell’s nipple if you freeze frame and look at the screen from just the right angle that my friends and I had in high school). It’s fine and some nice fluff for the section. Finally we get to hear about the newest invention for rich people to get things delivered to them quicker, BOY HASN’T THE INTERNET SOLVED ALL THE WORLD’S PROBLEMS! This time it’s booze and we get the view from the deliverers of said booze to the rich (or at least lazy enough not to leave their house) people. It was invented by people who are already rich who probably could not tell you the name of a single delivery driver. The fact that I read this on a packed LIRR train going to the Hamptons for a couple of days only added to the class warrior urges that were awoken (and would go on to color my thoughts for the rest of the issue SO GET READY FOR MORE OF THAT!)
The Sporting Scene
This was a thing about the X Games, which I don’t care about, and how they’ve changed and maybe lost some steam over their lifespan, which I only care about because it makes me feel good about not caring about them in the first place. I’m more of a team sports guy and it seems like these sports are for like alterna-jocks or something? And now we’re going to watch people play video games too, maybe? KIDS TODAY (I’m typing this from my lawn that you should really think about getting off of)! Ben McGrath does land a pretty inspired joke in this article though, see if you can find it!
Here is where my train ride to the Hamptons reaaaaaallllly got to me. In essence this is an amazing story about people coping with horrifying birth defects in their children and how through that coping they did good in the world. While I sat next to an old dude in a multicolored searsucker shirt reading a hardcover and tried not to hear the young rich Brits behind me talk about which famous people they were going to get drunk with this weekend all I could think about was how this article was a story of how rich people have greater advantages over everyone. Both of the families featured in this story are well off and their ability to find each other and thereby grow awareness of the heartbreaking problems that their children experience comes from their money. It is a really amazing story but it just made me wonder if we would have ever heard it if these things happened to poor people? CLASS WWWWWAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
Shouts and Murmurs
This was terrible and not funny, so it was right in line with my expectations.
(TD gets pissed about money while on a train to the Hamptons pt. 3!) Janet Yellen, the new Fed chairperson, gets a lengthy profile which both fills me with more class based rage but also kind of some hope because Janet Yellen seems like not an asshole. The way in which the Fed holds down interest rates on people’s savings so that investors can line their pockets continuously is pretty gross. The whole main street/wall street divide has been discussed ad nauseum by people who are waaaaaay smarter than me so I’m not going to go into what would probably be a very unfocused and short on facts rant about it but JEEEEEZZZZZZZZ. The ways in which the wealth get to decide things for the not wealthy based on the fact that in a lot of cases they were born with that wealth (ESTATE TAX FOREVER!) is super super super super super super super gross. Janet Yellen at least seems like she is interested in changing that a little bit according to this article, at least that’s how I read it.
Annals of Education
UGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHHGHGH, this one just ruined my brain. It was basically the thing that David Simon went into the future and read before he started putting together season 4 of The Wire. The story, about how the value placed on standardized testing by the powers that be took a school that was finally getting itself righted and turned it into a place where teachers were erasing students answers to make sure the school wasn’t shut down, brings to light the problem with modern school evaluation. I have no idea how you fix these things but just don’t do what they did in Sweden.
Did not read
The Critics: A Critic at Large
Louis Menand on the twin paths of African American and Women’s rights as they led to the adoption of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Rights Amendment is pretty fascinating. People were conniving dicks back then and seeing the various parties with interests in the various bills work their advantages is great reading. Watch out, there are A LOT of names and acronyms and they will be hard to keep straight on your train ride back from the Hamptons where you will watch drunken idiots lose their tickets home and drop their Corona Lights on the floor. You will feel lucky that those idiots are sitting on the other side of the aisle but it will really distract you from this article.
The idiots will really keep you from reading this part, reading about music is a pain anyway (insert old saw about dancing about architecture). I could no longer focus on Sasha Frere-Jones finding new ways to tell me he likes something so I kind of checked out halfway through.
I read this but I don’t have BET so I won’t watch the show so I ejected all memory of this from my brain. Also I have very little to say about what black television should be like mostly because I shouldn’t.
The Current Cinema
Anthony Lane slaps Dawn of the Planet of the Apes around a bit, I enjoyed reading it because I’m kind of a jerk and up until now I hadn’t read anything bad about the movie. I’m almost certain I’m not going to see it. There has been praise from all corners for Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Lane doesn’t disagree, for some reason I care less than I do about people not liking the Ape movie. BRAINS ARE WEIRD THAT WAY. Anyway, I’ll probably see it but not in the theater because I’m lazy.
OVERALL THIS ISSUE MADE ME THINK ABOUT MONEY AND TALK ABOUT GOING TO THE HAMPTONS OVER THE WEEKEND. IF YOU GO TO THE HAMPTONS OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKENDS CHECK OUT THIS COOL ART SHOW, IT WAS WHY I WAS IN THE HAMPTONS.
Three hours I cannot wait to waste
Adrian Tomine’s cover this week is a piece that I first found to be a pretty cheap joke, tourists happy at a memorial of a tragedy is a glib treatment of an issue that gets a deeper read later in the magazine, but a closer look at the piece reveals a slightly more nuanced treatment of the scene at the 9/11 fountains. The varied ways in which one might react at the WTC site is shown in some pretty nice details, though my first reaction might have been colored because theses details were obscured initially by my subscription sticker. The figure of the woman crying at the bottom of the page and the security guard on the walkie talky next to the woman in the headscarf (and the man giving either the guard or the woman a dirty look) give this cover significantly more meaning then I expected after my first quick glance. Tomine does insert himself into the scene though and as the only one in a patterned shirt he makes sure you notice it, this is kind of dumb. Also I still think he draws kind of like a second rate 80s Avengers artist but that’s just an old axe I will forever keep on the grinder.
Talk of the Town
Though I’m thankful this section eschews the normal TotT structure of Political Thoughts- Quirky Idea- Something About A Super Rich Person- Not Quite a Story, it is still forgettable. There is a real bummer thing about elephants which only reminded me that there are super terrible things that have no real chance of getting fixed every second of every day in every corner of the world. Next there is a thing about Dave Bry who was heretofore known to me as the dude who writes about rap at the Awl (which is kind of like being the dude who writes about sports for McSweeney’s). Apparently he wrote a book about apologies that people like, good for him. Minus points to the author of the piece for mentioning Shia LaBeouf, booooooooooooooooooo. Next, something about a dancer and the World Cup or something and then a thing about Bill Paxton who just seems like a crazy person, although I would bet that I would be a little off is I was turned into a turd once.
THIS WAS GREAT! I love articles about how rich people are dicks and this is basically just that. Apparently rich people used to at least appear not to be dicks and now they feel like that their cash has eliminated the need to even appear not like a dick. This should be pointed out more often.
Critic At Large
Adam Gopnik writes about the 9/11 memorial and museum and memorials generally. This article was good but I read a little bit of it while I was slightly tipsy so I may have lost some of the finer points of it. I enjoyed the part where he said that because of its proximity to commercial buildings the memorial is not much more than a fancy office park. This website is a nice accompaniment to the article.
Shouts and Murmurs
This was fine and weird which is really the best you can hope for from this section.
Letter From San Francisco
OH BOY! This is another subject that I enjoy deeply, the war between rich tech schmos and hippies in one of my least favorite cities, San Francisco (don’t call it ‘Frisco or SF, they really hate it when you do that). A fight about middle class rents is pretty silly when you look across the bay at Oakland, a city who’s problems are much deeper then what bus stops where. Also, the tech community would be better served if they matched their high minded ideals with business goals that were a little more egalitarian than how to make it easier to pay someone to drive you someplace/bring you food/look at your genitals.
Annals of Survival
Did not read (yet, I will probably read this eventually but the last thing I want to read while riding in a metal box underground is about a mine collapse).
Did not read.
The Critics: Pop Music
Brian Eno is great and stories about Brian Eno are great and the thing in this article about Phil Collins throwing beer cans across the room is extra great. It’s nice that Sasha Frere-Jones slags him a little bit because everybody deserves that.
Now that Hilton Als has told me that Dave Chapelle’s shows at Radio City were just kind of okay I don’t have to feel bad about not paying a bunch of money to see them.
I like Orange is the New Black and Louie which are both written about here. Emily Nussbaum, who shares a name with someone who I went to high school with but is not that person thank god, says that the former is good which I agree with and that the later is finally getting a little bit of crap which I cannot judge because I haven’t seen the whole season. That’s about all I got out of this.
The Art World
I used to think that Jeff Koons was just a bummer but I had only seen that dumb Michael Jackson and Bubbles piece and read about all the paintings he did that involved his dick and how much people pay for his work, WHAT CONCLUSION WAS I SUPPOSED TO DRAW WORLD? I will probably go see this show and wish that I had 09243824-59824-0582-0423 billion dollars or whatever to buy some inflatable dog.
The Current Cinema
I REALLY WANT TO SEE SNOWPIERCER! Who wants to go with me? The other movie reviewed seems kind of lame. I like a Ruffalo as much as the next guy but usually fictive movies about the record business are so completely out of whack with my limited experience (and it is limited as fuck) as to what that world is like that in the end they only lead another poor group of young schmucks to spend years accruing useless guitar pedals and debt and we have enough of those thank you very much.
OVERALL THIS WAS A PRETTY GOOD ISSUE.