1. Sometimes you just want to read something funny. Which is what this piece "I Tried Gwyneth Paltrow’s Diet" by Rebecca Harrington over at New York Magazine is. It’s not another run-of-the-mill making-fun-of-Gwyneth’s-expensive-savior-complex piece because, while Harrington has a sense of humor, she also has a genuine appreciation for the recipes and food and for the fact that Gwyneth is sharing them. Heidi and I both want to hang out with Harrington:

While making the meatballs, however, I can tell something is up. No. 1: They are green (they are made of arugula and turkey). No. 2: I can’t put them in tomato sauce because I have eliminated tomatoes from my diet. Instead, I am serving them with a broccoli soup that tastes mostly like water. What is going on? Yesterday was so amazing! When my guests arrive and I feed them the meatballs, I can tell that they hate them. One of them pulls out a huge bag of chips and starts eating them in front of me. Another one leaves to “actually eat dinner.” I am about to have a panic attack when I suddenly remember when Gwyneth went to a dinner party in America and someone asked her what kind of jeans she was wearing and she thought to herself, “I have to get back to Europe.” America is the worst. I say nothing about anyone’s jeans, even though I was literally just going to ask everyone about their jeans.


Image via Neurotic New Yorker View in High-Res

    Sometimes you just want to read something funny. Which is what this piece "I Tried Gwyneth Paltrow’s Diet" by Rebecca Harrington over at New York Magazine is. It’s not another run-of-the-mill making-fun-of-Gwyneth’s-expensive-savior-complex piece because, while Harrington has a sense of humor, she also has a genuine appreciation for the recipes and food and for the fact that Gwyneth is sharing them. Heidi and I both want to hang out with Harrington:

    While making the meatballs, however, I can tell something is up. No. 1: They are green (they are made of arugula and turkey). No. 2: I can’t put them in tomato sauce because I have eliminated tomatoes from my diet. Instead, I am serving them with a broccoli soup that tastes mostly like water. What is going on? Yesterday was so amazing! When my guests arrive and I feed them the meatballs, I can tell that they hate them. One of them pulls out a huge bag of chips and starts eating them in front of me. Another one leaves to “actually eat dinner.” I am about to have a panic attack when I suddenly remember when Gwyneth went to a dinner party in America and someone asked her what kind of jeans she was wearing and she thought to herself, “I have to get back to Europe.” America is the worst. I say nothing about anyone’s jeans, even though I was literally just going to ask everyone about their jeans.

    Image via Neurotic New Yorker

  2. Weekend Reading

    Funny Ladies

    Gwyneth Paltrow

    Rebecca Harrington

    New York Magazine

  1. Horse racing can catch a lot of shade for the shady characters it attracts and the shady practices it can foster. Horses are drugged. Horses are pushed and their delicate legs break and the animals are put down. The money involved can be gross and conspicuous. It’s easy to want to say, “Forget it. It’s not worth it.” I’ve certainly felt that reading stories about innocent thoroughbreds and rotten humans.

    But then I’ll go watch some YouTube footage of Zenyatta or re-watch the Triple Crown battles between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer, which is the first Triple Crown that ever gave me my first certified Triple Crown heartbreak. I’ll then remember the things that — skepticism aside — make me love a good horse race in spite of it all. Things that have to do with vague ideas like heart and beauty and body and perfection, as well as the old you-got-a-horse-I-got-a-horse-which-horse-is-faster question which is sometimes just what it all comes down to. And so, because tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby and thus the beginning of Triple Crown season and because the wait for the next Triple Crown champion is no small sports story, for your weekend reading, here’s a classic piece from Sports Illustrated by William Nack about the horse to end all horses: Secretariat.

    "Pure Heart":

    On the long ride from Louisville, I would regale my friends with stories about the horse—how on that early morning in March ‘73 he had materialized out of the quickening blue darkness in the upper stretch at Belmont Park, his ears pinned back, running as fast as horses run; how he had lost the Wood Memorial and won the Derby, and how he had been bothered by a pigeon feather at Pimlico on the eve of the Preakness (at the end of this tale I would pluck the delicate, mashed feather out of my wallet, like a picture of my kids, to pass around the car); how on the morning of the Belmont Stakes he had burst from the barn like a stud horse going to the breeding shed and had walked around the outdoor ring on his hind legs, pawing at the sky; how he had once grabbed my notebook and refused to give it back, and how he had seized a rake in his teeth and begun raking the shed; and, finally, I told about that magical, unforgettable instant, frozen now in time, when he turned for home, appearing out of a dark drizzle at Woodbine, near Toronto, in the last race of his career, 12 lengths in front and steam puffing from his nostrils as from a factory whistle, bounding like some mythical beast of Greek lore.

    Our coverage of horse racing here at Fresh Air has been understandably less uplifting. Here’s our interview with New York Times reporters Walt Bogdanich and Joe Drape who did a series for the paper last year about illegal drugs in the racing industry. The series placed a spotlight on the issue and sparked a lively conversation about regulation and oversight. One can only hope it will lead substantive change. We fans want to continue to remember the good — sometimes even transcendent — moments of the sport without the bad ones eventually clouding everything over completely.

    Above, Secretariat’s Kentucky Derby.

  2. Weekend Reading

    Secretariat

    Kentucky Derby

    Triple Crown

    Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Horse Racing

    William Nack

    Pure Heart

    Sports Illustrated

  1. The genre of essays that tackles the eternal question of “to art or not to art” is a time honored one; it can also be a dangerous one if the essayist slides even somewhat towards self-pity. When done well, however, the question examines the various influences at work on the human heart and head and highlight just how at odds the two sometimes are. For your weekend reading, an essay from Elle — "I’m For Sale" — by Genevieve Smith that asks the “to art or not to art” question well and sheds light on the ways we either decide — or refuse — to make sacrifices when it comes to doing what we love:

I recently asked my dad if he ever regretted not following those early ambitions. No, he told me. Even though he’d toyed with doing a more commercial craft like silversmithing or pottery, he realized how hard a life that would be, always having to scramble to keep the money coming. So instead, he found a career that drew on something else he cared about—helping others—and that would also, in later years, allow him to support a family and have enough time to be active in raising them. “I was never out to make a whole lot of money. My whole goal was balance,” he said.

On a more personal note, the writing life versus a salary, health insurance and 401K is the central quandary I’ve been stewing over for going on a decade now. I’ve pretty much given up on finding the answer, if it even exists. My own father was once aspiring painter as well. Like Smith’s, my dad, too, left his artistic ambitions behind to support a family and became an architect instead. Last night, though, he went to an art opening at a gallery in Richmond, Virginia, where a painting of his was hung on the wall, framed and everything. He sent me a picture as proof.
Painting by Wayne White View in High-Res

    The genre of essays that tackles the eternal question of “to art or not to art” is a time honored one; it can also be a dangerous one if the essayist slides even somewhat towards self-pity. When done well, however, the question examines the various influences at work on the human heart and head and highlight just how at odds the two sometimes are. For your weekend reading, an essay from Elle"I’m For Sale" — by Genevieve Smith that asks the “to art or not to art” question well and sheds light on the ways we either decide — or refuse — to make sacrifices when it comes to doing what we love:

    I recently asked my dad if he ever regretted not following those early ambitions. No, he told me. Even though he’d toyed with doing a more commercial craft like silversmithing or pottery, he realized how hard a life that would be, always having to scramble to keep the money coming. So instead, he found a career that drew on something else he cared about—helping others—and that would also, in later years, allow him to support a family and have enough time to be active in raising them. “I was never out to make a whole lot of money. My whole goal was balance,” he said.

    On a more personal note, the writing life versus a salary, health insurance and 401K is the central quandary I’ve been stewing over for going on a decade now. I’ve pretty much given up on finding the answer, if it even exists. My own father was once aspiring painter as well. Like Smith’s, my dad, too, left his artistic ambitions behind to support a family and became an architect instead. Last night, though, he went to an art opening at a gallery in Richmond, Virginia, where a painting of his was hung on the wall, framed and everything. He sent me a picture as proof.

    Painting by Wayne White

  2. for+sale

    Elle Magazine

    Genevieve Smith

    Weekend Reading

    Wayne White

    I'm For Sale

  1. There is at least one truism when trying to appeal to a wide audience: What do the people want? The people want animals. We 100 percent agree. So, it seems, do the folks at Lapham’s Quarterly. Their latest issue is themed simply "Animals," and that about sums it up. For your weekend reading, a Lapham’s-style animal tale by Frances Stonor Saunders about the early days of the American Museum of Natural History and the story behind the museum’s famous dioramas that feature meticulously painted landscapes and taxidermied wildlife.
How To Be a Stuffed Animal:

In a lozenge-shaped hall just beyond the main entrance to the museum, builders constructed a series of chambers to house the “habitat dioramas.” Each chamber was fitted like an alcove with a 180 degree curved wall, providing maximum depth-projection for the artists who were commissioned to paint the backdrop—the Serengeti Plain, or a bank of the Upper Nile, the slopes of Mount Kenya, a forest beside the Zambezi River. The foreground, raised on a concealed platform, was then dressed with the accessories, every stone or tuft of grass positioned exactly as it had been in the wild, and finally the mounted animals were introduced. The taxidermists fussed lovingly over their creation—kudu, cheetahs, nyala, rhinoceros, lions, giraffes, chimpanzees, mandrills—giving their coats a final brush, spraying a bit more fixative here or pigment there, before stepping out of the front of the chamber (out of Africa, so to speak), which was then sealed with a panoramic plate-glass viewing window.

Image by asterix611

    There is at least one truism when trying to appeal to a wide audience: What do the people want? The people want animals. We 100 percent agree. So, it seems, do the folks at Lapham’s Quarterly. Their latest issue is themed simply "Animals," and that about sums it up. For your weekend reading, a Lapham’s-style animal tale by Frances Stonor Saunders about the early days of the American Museum of Natural History and the story behind the museum’s famous dioramas that feature meticulously painted landscapes and taxidermied wildlife.

    How To Be a Stuffed Animal:

    In a lozenge-shaped hall just beyond the main entrance to the museum, builders constructed a series of chambers to house the “habitat dioramas.” Each chamber was fitted like an alcove with a 180 degree curved wall, providing maximum depth-projection for the artists who were commissioned to paint the backdrop—the Serengeti Plain, or a bank of the Upper Nile, the slopes of Mount Kenya, a forest beside the Zambezi River. The foreground, raised on a concealed platform, was then dressed with the accessories, every stone or tuft of grass positioned exactly as it had been in the wild, and finally the mounted animals were introduced. The taxidermists fussed lovingly over their creation—kudu, cheetahs, nyala, rhinoceros, lions, giraffes, chimpanzees, mandrills—giving their coats a final brush, spraying a bit more fixative here or pigment there, before stepping out of the front of the chamber (out of Africa, so to speak), which was then sealed with a panoramic plate-glass viewing window.

    Image by asterix611

  2. Weekend Reading

    Lapham's Quarterly

    Frances Stonor Saunders

    How To Be A Stuffed Animal

  1. For years I’ve been somewhat secretly binging on arguments and essays surrounding literature, books, and the future of the printed word in the digital age. I’ve read howls of distress and songs of nostalgia and bright cheers of encouragement. It’s a virtual cacophony out there. But I’ve always sort of assumed that that cacophony was limited to writers and editors and journalists and those working or naturally interested in fields related to those occupations. Richard Nash's piece — "What Is the Business of Literature" — on the Virginia Quarterly Review, however, has convinced me how wrongheaded that assumption was. He argues that a conversation about the future of the business of literature is a conversation about the past, present and future of life, full stop. For your weekend reading:

Walk into the reading room of the New York Public Library and what do you see? Laptops. Books, like the tables and chairs, have receded into the backdrop of human life. This has nothing to do with the assertion that the book is counter-technology, but that the book is a technology so pervasive, so frequently iterated and innovated upon, so worn and polished by centuries of human contact, that it reaches the status of Nature.

Image of Shakespeare and Co.

    For years I’ve been somewhat secretly binging on arguments and essays surrounding literature, books, and the future of the printed word in the digital age. I’ve read howls of distress and songs of nostalgia and bright cheers of encouragement. It’s a virtual cacophony out there. But I’ve always sort of assumed that that cacophony was limited to writers and editors and journalists and those working or naturally interested in fields related to those occupations. Richard Nash's piece — "What Is the Business of Literature" — on the Virginia Quarterly Review, however, has convinced me how wrongheaded that assumption was. He argues that a conversation about the future of the business of literature is a conversation about the past, present and future of life, full stop. For your weekend reading:

    Walk into the reading room of the New York Public Library and what do you see? Laptops. Books, like the tables and chairs, have receded into the backdrop of human life. This has nothing to do with the assertion that the book is counter-technology, but that the book is a technology so pervasive, so frequently iterated and innovated upon, so worn and polished by centuries of human contact, that it reaches the status of Nature.

    Image of Shakespeare and Co.

  2. book

    Virginia Quarterly Review

    Richard Nash

    What Is The Business of Literature

    Weekend reading

  1. On Monday’s show, Terry is talking with Emily Rapp about Rapp’s new memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World, about Rapp’s son Ronan, who was diagnosed with the degenerative and always-fatal Tay-Sachs disease when he was nine months old. I listened to the interview this morning and it’s wonderful. I am also a fan of Rapp’s writing and so, for your weekend reading, here’s one of my favorite pieces by her — an essay called "Transformation and Transcendence: The Power of Female Friendship" (published on The Rumpus in January 2012). She writes about three older women she met while working overseas in her early twenties, what they taught her about friendship, and how she understood that kind of love with a renewed appreciation in the wake of Ronan’s diagnosis. I just reread the essay for the umpteenth time and can feel the spots on my cheek where the tears have dried again:

I drank with them, silently, as the rain pounded the darkened windows. What I realized, sitting there, was that these women had been in these kinds of emotionally challenging situations for over 20 years. Together. They understood, together, as friends, and apart, as individuals in the world, the urgency of compassion, and that it often goes unnoticed but that this doesn’t make it any less important or vital or difficult to sustain and cultivate. And they also understood that you could try as hard as you possibly could, and disaster could still strike – mercilessly. Without warning, without fairness, and with fatal consequences.

Image by Thomas/Flickr

    On Monday’s show, Terry is talking with Emily Rapp about Rapp’s new memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World, about Rapp’s son Ronan, who was diagnosed with the degenerative and always-fatal Tay-Sachs disease when he was nine months old. I listened to the interview this morning and it’s wonderful. I am also a fan of Rapp’s writing and so, for your weekend reading, here’s one of my favorite pieces by her — an essay called "Transformation and Transcendence: The Power of Female Friendship" (published on The Rumpus in January 2012). She writes about three older women she met while working overseas in her early twenties, what they taught her about friendship, and how she understood that kind of love with a renewed appreciation in the wake of Ronan’s diagnosis. I just reread the essay for the umpteenth time and can feel the spots on my cheek where the tears have dried again:

    I drank with them, silently, as the rain pounded the darkened windows. What I realized, sitting there, was that these women had been in these kinds of emotionally challenging situations for over 20 years. Together. They understood, together, as friends, and apart, as individuals in the world, the urgency of compassion, and that it often goes unnoticed but that this doesn’t make it any less important or vital or difficult to sustain and cultivate. And they also understood that you could try as hard as you possibly could, and disaster could still strike – mercilessly. Without warning, without fairness, and with fatal consequences.

    Image by Thomas/Flickr

  2. Emily Rapp

    The Rumpus

    Transformation and Transcendence: The Power of Femal Friendship

    Fresh Air

    Coming Up

    Tay-Sachs Disease

    Weekend Reading

  1. For your weekend reading, Larissa MacFarquhar’s New Yorker profile of programmer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz, "Requiem for a Dream." Much has been written about Swartz in the wake of his January suicide and you might well — and understandably so — be Swartz-ed out. That said, this piece illustrates him not as martyr figure or genius figure or any other kind of figure, but as a complicated, brilliant and difficult human being. MacFarquhar uses block quotes from the people closest to him and juxtaposes the quotes against one another to illuminating effect. This paragraph in particular struck me. It articulates so well the nature of writing online and what effect that can have on readers. I’ve been thinking about it all week:

Prose creates a strong illusion of presence—so strong that it is difficult to destroy it. It is hard to remember that you are reading and not hearing. The illusion is stronger when the prose is online, partly because you are aware that it might be altered or redacted at any moment—the writer may be online, too, as you read it—and partly because the Internet has been around for such a short time that we implicitly assume (as we do not with a book) that the writer of a blog post is alive.

-Nell
Image of Aaron Swartz via John-Brown/Flickr

    For your weekend reading, Larissa MacFarquhar’s New Yorker profile of programmer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz, "Requiem for a Dream." Much has been written about Swartz in the wake of his January suicide and you might well — and understandably so — be Swartz-ed out. That said, this piece illustrates him not as martyr figure or genius figure or any other kind of figure, but as a complicated, brilliant and difficult human being. MacFarquhar uses block quotes from the people closest to him and juxtaposes the quotes against one another to illuminating effect. This paragraph in particular struck me. It articulates so well the nature of writing online and what effect that can have on readers. I’ve been thinking about it all week:

    Prose creates a strong illusion of presence—so strong that it is difficult to destroy it. It is hard to remember that you are reading and not hearing. The illusion is stronger when the prose is online, partly because you are aware that it might be altered or redacted at any moment—the writer may be online, too, as you read it—and partly because the Internet has been around for such a short time that we implicitly assume (as we do not with a book) that the writer of a blog post is alive.


    -Nell

    Image of Aaron Swartz via John-Brown/Flickr

  2. The New Yorker

    Larissa MacFarquhar

    Aaron Swartz

    Weekend Reading

  1. As we eye the third consecutive weekend where the East Coast faces a storm of some sort (snow, sleet, ice, what have you got for us, February?), here’s a weather-themed piece for your weekend reading by Thomas Beller in the New Yorker — "Remembrance of Snows Past." Beller writes about memories of his childhood conjured by snow, but It’s not a sentimental piece about the glories of the Flexible Flier. Instead, a piece about how snow can sometimes seem to stop — or rather compress — time. As the title suggests, the essay is as much about time and the people we lose to it as it is about the weather itself.

My image of this childhood sled derives from an encounter of not too many years ago, when I found one in my mother’s closet. It was shortly after my daughter was born. We were excavating the closet in my old bedroom so that my little family would have room to visit for extended stays. My mother’s closets were so stuffed with things that each one was like a miniature attic, crowded to point that mere entry was almost impossible. Sometimes this was oppressive. More often it was magical. It was as though each of my mother’s closets were one of those circus Volkswagens out of which clowns would continuously pour.

Image by Vivian Gucwa/Flickr

    As we eye the third consecutive weekend where the East Coast faces a storm of some sort (snow, sleet, ice, what have you got for us, February?), here’s a weather-themed piece for your weekend reading by Thomas Beller in the New Yorker"Remembrance of Snows Past." Beller writes about memories of his childhood conjured by snow, but It’s not a sentimental piece about the glories of the Flexible Flier. Instead, a piece about how snow can sometimes seem to stop — or rather compress — time. As the title suggests, the essay is as much about time and the people we lose to it as it is about the weather itself.

    My image of this childhood sled derives from an encounter of not too many years ago, when I found one in my mother’s closet. It was shortly after my daughter was born. We were excavating the closet in my old bedroom so that my little family would have room to visit for extended stays. My mother’s closets were so stuffed with things that each one was like a miniature attic, crowded to point that mere entry was almost impossible. Sometimes this was oppressive. More often it was magical. It was as though each of my mother’s closets were one of those circus Volkswagens out of which clowns would continuously pour.

    Image by Vivian Gucwa/Flickr

  2. Weekend Reading

    Snow

    Thomas Beller

    The New Yorker

    Remembrance of Snows Past

  1. For your weekend reading, "Sunk: The Incredible Truth About A Ship That Never Should Have Sailed" by Kathryn Miles over at Outside. It tells the story of how the HMS Bounty ended up — and end up sinking — in Hurricane Sandy last fall. The story is gripping to the point of being operatic.

McIntosh put the plane in a quick descent as his crew rushed around the open hold, reconfiguring the ramp for a life-raft drop as rain pelted in. Within minutes, however, the plane hit its bingo-fuel level, the moment when any aircraft must turn around. They dropped the rafts and headed back, not knowing if anyone had made it off the ship alive.
At least 14 did, but they were fighting to survive. When the vessel capsized, it rolled sharply onto its starboard side, sending the crew and everything on deck—including the emergency drybags—tumbling into the sea. Svendsen, who’d been on the radio with the Coast Guard, was the last off the vessel; he broke his right arm and cut up his face as he crashed into the rigging on the way down.


Image via Etsy View in High-Res

    For your weekend reading, "Sunk: The Incredible Truth About A Ship That Never Should Have Sailed" by Kathryn Miles over at Outside. It tells the story of how the HMS Bounty ended up — and end up sinking — in Hurricane Sandy last fall. The story is gripping to the point of being operatic.

    McIntosh put the plane in a quick descent as his crew rushed around the open hold, reconfiguring the ramp for a life-raft drop as rain pelted in. Within minutes, however, the plane hit its bingo-fuel level, the moment when any aircraft must turn around. They dropped the rafts and headed back, not knowing if anyone had made it off the ship alive.

    At least 14 did, but they were fighting to survive. When the vessel capsized, it rolled sharply onto its starboard side, sending the crew and everything on deck—including the emergency drybags—tumbling into the sea. Svendsen, who’d been on the radio with the Coast Guard, was the last off the vessel; he broke his right arm and cut up his face as he crashed into the rigging on the way down.

    Image via Etsy

  2. storm+ocean

    weekend reading

    Outside

    Sunk

    Kathryn Miles

  1. A few days ago, when we/NPR Music asked you all out there on the internet which songs or artists were getting you through the winter, a couple of you mentioned Kendrick Lamar and his new album Good kid m.A.A.d. city. So, for your weekend reading, a long exploration (but one well-worth reading) in the L.A. Review of Books of Lamar and hip hop and memoir and Toni Morrison and David Foster Wallace and opportunity in the United States today.
"When the Lights Shut Off: Kendrick Lamar and the Decline of the Black Blues Narrative" by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah:

Kendrick Lamar is close enough to Watts in proximity to understand its despair, close enough to the civil disobedience of the 1992 riots to understand their rage, to understand that there is no exit. He is young enough to idolize the golden age of hip-hop, innocent enough to engage in shameless hero worship, a fan enough to put Mary J. Blige and MC Eiht on his album. But he is also old enough to know that nobody followed Tupac’s body to the morgue. That a bullet fractured one of Tupac’s fingers, fingers often used to so brazenly flip off the world. Lamar is wise enough to know that, in hip-hop, the jig is up on a lot of things (overstated capitalism, the battering of women), and he isn’t flashy — he calls himself the black hippie. His abundance is his talent. And yet, because of his murdered uncle, his fretful grandmother, and the gang-raped girl whose voice he occupies in the same way De La Soul did Millie’s, Lamar is not just a wandering preacher in town to be angry at the locals and their chaos.

    A few days ago, when we/NPR Music asked you all out there on the internet which songs or artists were getting you through the winter, a couple of you mentioned Kendrick Lamar and his new album Good kid m.A.A.d. city. So, for your weekend reading, a long exploration (but one well-worth reading) in the L.A. Review of Books of Lamar and hip hop and memoir and Toni Morrison and David Foster Wallace and opportunity in the United States today.

    "When the Lights Shut Off: Kendrick Lamar and the Decline of the Black Blues Narrative" by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah:

    Kendrick Lamar is close enough to Watts in proximity to understand its despair, close enough to the civil disobedience of the 1992 riots to understand their rage, to understand that there is no exit. He is young enough to idolize the golden age of hip-hop, innocent enough to engage in shameless hero worship, a fan enough to put Mary J. Blige and MC Eiht on his album. But he is also old enough to know that nobody followed Tupac’s body to the morgue. That a bullet fractured one of Tupac’s fingers, fingers often used to so brazenly flip off the world. Lamar is wise enough to know that, in hip-hop, the jig is up on a lot of things (overstated capitalism, the battering of women), and he isn’t flashy — he calls himself the black hippie. His abundance is his talent. And yet, because of his murdered uncle, his fretful grandmother, and the gang-raped girl whose voice he occupies in the same way De La Soul did Millie’s, Lamar is not just a wandering preacher in town to be angry at the locals and their chaos.

  2. Weekend reading

    LA Review of Books

    Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah

    Kendrick Lamar

    Good kid m.A.A.d. city.

  1. Between abortion and Scientology on the show this week, I wanted to offer you all something light for weekend reading. I tried. This New York Magazine profile of Bret Easton Ellis — "Bret Easton Ellis’s Real Art Form Is the Tweet" — by Vanessa Grigoriadis is mesmerizing. It maybe sort of light, but in a really dark way. Plus, Grigoriadis is so good — I would read her day planner if people under 60 still used day planners —  I couldn’t not recommend it. Plus, it includes the phrase “loose-leaf-tea blogger.”




Twitter mixes literature (of an admittedly minimal sort) with performance, and it’s perfect for Ellis, who has always been, when you think about it, more of a conceptual artist than an author. The work isn’t beside the point, but it isn’t the whole point. In this new métier, each part of his persona is on view: satirist, nihilist, glamour guy, exhibitionist, knee-jerk contrarian, self-pitying cokehead, and a few other things, all of which make some laugh with glee and others avert their eyes in boredom, and even more glance back in spite of their revulsion, wondering, as one of his followers did the other day: “Is Bret Easton Ellis dead inside?” Indeed, on Twitter, just as it was with Less Than Zero almost 30 years ago, that’s still the question. It may or may not be a question he asks himself—that, too, is part of the show. Ellis has worked hard to make himself a pop-cultural monster—“monster” has been one of his nicknames—then denies that he’s anything but a middle-aged homebody.




Related and if you somehow missed it: "Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie."

    Between abortion and Scientology on the show this week, I wanted to offer you all something light for weekend reading. I tried. This New York Magazine profile of Bret Easton Ellis — "Bret Easton Ellis’s Real Art Form Is the Tweet" — by Vanessa Grigoriadis is mesmerizing. It maybe sort of light, but in a really dark way. Plus, Grigoriadis is so good — I would read her day planner if people under 60 still used day planners — I couldn’t not recommend it. Plus, it includes the phrase “loose-leaf-tea blogger.”

    Twitter mixes literature (of an admittedly minimal sort) with performance, and it’s perfect for Ellis, who has always been, when you think about it, more of a conceptual artist than an author. The work isn’t beside the point, but it isn’t the whole point. In this new métier, each part of his persona is on view: satirist, nihilist, glamour guy, exhibitionist, knee-jerk contrarian, self-pitying cokehead, and a few other things, all of which make some laugh with glee and others avert their eyes in boredom, and even more glance back in spite of their revulsion, wondering, as one of his followers did the other day: “Is Bret Easton Ellis dead inside?” Indeed, on Twitter, just as it was with Less Than Zero almost 30 years ago, that’s still the question. It may or may not be a question he asks himself—that, too, is part of the show. Ellis has worked hard to make himself a pop-cultural monster—“monster” has been one of his nicknames—then denies that he’s anything but a middle-aged homebody.

    Related and if you somehow missed it: "Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie."

  2. Weekend reading

    New York Magazine

    Bret Easton Ellis

    Vanessa Grigoriadis

    Twitter

  1. For your weekend reading, a piece in Guernica — "Hipco: The Living Art of Liberia" — about looking for art and music in Liberia.



The boot was preserved in a glass case in the middle of the museum’s bare, sunlit second floor. It had belonged to Prince Johnson, a warlord who controlled part of Monrovia back in 1990. On September 9th of that year, Johnson’s rebels cornered then-president Samuel Doe and carted him back to Johnson’s base on the outskirts of the city. You can still buy street videos of what happened next: Johnson coolly sips a Budweiser as his men slice off Doe’s ears. Doe died of blood loss later that night; Johnson wound up a senator in Liberia’s legislature. Like other former warlords who continue to wield power, Johnson gets mixed reviews from Liberians—some see him as a protector; others, as a criminal. He ran for president last year and got 12% of the vote, good enough for third place. Today, he lives in a sprawling compound just outside Monrovia, where he tends to a pet eagle and gives the odd interview to nervous foreign journalists.



For some background and context, here is the Fresh Air interview from 2009 with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who became Africa’s first democratically-elected female leader when she was elected president of Liberia in 2005. View in High-Res

    For your weekend reading, a piece in Guernica"Hipco: The Living Art of Liberia" — about looking for art and music in Liberia.

    The boot was preserved in a glass case in the middle of the museum’s bare, sunlit second floor. It had belonged to Prince Johnson, a warlord who controlled part of Monrovia back in 1990. On September 9th of that year, Johnson’s rebels cornered then-president Samuel Doe and carted him back to Johnson’s base on the outskirts of the city. You can still buy street videos of what happened next: Johnson coolly sips a Budweiser as his men slice off Doe’s ears. Doe died of blood loss later that night; Johnson wound up a senator in Liberia’s legislature. Like other former warlords who continue to wield power, Johnson gets mixed reviews from Liberians—some see him as a protector; others, as a criminal. He ran for president last year and got 12% of the vote, good enough for third place. Today, he lives in a sprawling compound just outside Monrovia, where he tends to a pet eagle and gives the odd interview to nervous foreign journalists.

    For some background and context, here is the Fresh Air interview from 2009 with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who became Africa’s first democratically-elected female leader when she was elected president of Liberia in 2005.

  2. Weekend reading

    Guernica

    Hipco

    Liberia

    Jess Engebretson

    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

  1. For your weekend reading, a meditation on loneliness, "Me, Myself and I", by Olivia Laing. Being new to this city and a little unmoored myself right now, I likely gravitated towards this piece for particularly personal reasons. Regardless, the writing in this essay is exquisite, the voice is honest, the insights, earned. The connections made are unexpected and true. It will resonate with anyone who has ever been lonely, which is everyone.:





















Each time I came, I brought chrysanthemums the colour of pound coins, and in return he fed me muffins and tiny cups of coffee, and told me stories about the dead from yet another era of New York artists. He remembered Dylan Thomas hurtling through the bars of Greenwich Village, and Frank O’Hara, the New York School poet who’d died at 40 in a car accident on Fire Island. A sweet man, he said. He smoked as he talked, breaking off into great hacking bouts of coughing. Mostly he told me about Jorge Luis Borges, blind Borges, who was bilingual from childhood, and died in exile in Switzerland, and whom all the taxi drivers in Buenos Aires had adored.






















And because we’re talking about loneliness and friends, here is a beautiful song about loneliness by my friend Josh, filmed by his friend Mike.
- Nell

Image of South 9th Street, Philadelphia by Frank J. Angelini View in High-Res

    For your weekend reading, a meditation on loneliness, "Me, Myself and I", by Olivia Laing. Being new to this city and a little unmoored myself right now, I likely gravitated towards this piece for particularly personal reasons. Regardless, the writing in this essay is exquisite, the voice is honest, the insights, earned. The connections made are unexpected and true. It will resonate with anyone who has ever been lonely, which is everyone.:

    Each time I came, I brought chrysanthemums the colour of pound coins, and in return he fed me muffins and tiny cups of coffee, and told me stories about the dead from yet another era of New York artists. He remembered Dylan Thomas hurtling through the bars of Greenwich Village, and Frank O’Hara, the New York School poet who’d died at 40 in a car accident on Fire Island. A sweet man, he said. He smoked as he talked, breaking off into great hacking bouts of coughing. Mostly he told me about Jorge Luis Borges, blind Borges, who was bilingual from childhood, and died in exile in Switzerland, and whom all the taxi drivers in Buenos Aires had adored.

    And because we’re talking about loneliness and friends, here is a beautiful song about loneliness by my friend Josh, filmed by his friend Mike.

    - Nell

    Image of South 9th Street, Philadelphia by Frank J. Angelini

  2. Weekend Reading

    Aeon Magazine

    Olivia Laing

  1. For your weekend reading, a piece from the LA Review of Books by Alex Harvey that is ostensibly a review of Barney Hoskins’ 2010 biography of Tom Waits, Lowside of the Road. To call it just a book review, however, seems limiting because it’s about fathers and sons, femme fatales, lust, music, addiction, influence, Los Angeles, film noir, biography, autobiography, Tom Waits, “Tom Waits”, and finding one’s voice. And it is pretty fascinating.:







When he and Jones split up, he moved out of the Tropicana and into a more laidback East Hollywood neighborhood, close to his father. By day he worked in the old RCA building on Sunset and Ivar, pushing his images and verbal fragments into a new kind of coherence. Gone was Chandler’s white knight in the form of Marlowe, or the melancholy search for the urban epiphany. In its place is the voice of a semi-psychotic street predator, snarling over savage guitar and bass.







Incidentally, Tom Waits is going to be on The Simpsons on January 6.
And here is the Fresh Air interview with Mr. Waits.
-Nell
image by Anthony Corbijn (2004) via  lifecomesfromwithin

    For your weekend reading, a piece from the LA Review of Books by Alex Harvey that is ostensibly a review of Barney Hoskins’ 2010 biography of Tom Waits, Lowside of the Road. To call it just a book review, however, seems limiting because it’s about fathers and sons, femme fatales, lust, music, addiction, influence, Los Angeles, film noir, biography, autobiography, Tom Waits, “Tom Waits”, and finding one’s voice. And it is pretty fascinating.:

    When he and Jones split up, he moved out of the Tropicana and into a more laidback East Hollywood neighborhood, close to his father. By day he worked in the old RCA building on Sunset and Ivar, pushing his images and verbal fragments into a new kind of coherence. Gone was Chandler’s white knight in the form of Marlowe, or the melancholy search for the urban epiphany. In its place is the voice of a semi-psychotic street predator, snarling over savage guitar and bass.

    Incidentally, Tom Waits is going to be on The Simpsons on January 6.

    And here is the Fresh Air interview with Mr. Waits.

    -Nell

    image by Anthony Corbijn (2004) via  lifecomesfromwithin

  2. Weekend Reading

    Tom Waits

    The Simpsons

    LA Review of Books

    Fresh Air

    Interviews

  1. For your weekend reading: I was talking last week with a friend about this Oxford American piece — “I Will Remain Forever Faithful” — on ‘Lil Wayne and teaching in the New Orleans public schools. The talking led me to reread it which reminded me of how wonderful it is which made me want to share it with you.:










Right before you become a teacher, you are told by all manner of folks that it will be 1) the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and 2) the best thing you’ve ever done. That seems like a recipe for recruiting wannabe martyrs. In any case, high stakes can blind you to the best moments. One day, I was stressing over what I imagined was my one-man quest to keep Darius in school and out of jail, and missed that a heated dispute between two fifth-graders was escalating. Finally, I asked them what was wrong.
"Mr. Ramsey," one of the boys pleaded, "will you please tell him that if you go into space for a year and come back to earth that all your family will be dead because time moves slower in space?”










The essay is from 2008, but it seems not entirely untimely since, in late September, Lil Wayne surpassed Elvis for number of appearances on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
-Nell

    For your weekend reading: I was talking last week with a friend about this Oxford American piece — “I Will Remain Forever Faithful” — on ‘Lil Wayne and teaching in the New Orleans public schools. The talking led me to reread it which reminded me of how wonderful it is which made me want to share it with you.:

    Right before you become a teacher, you are told by all manner of folks that it will be 1) the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and 2) the best thing you’ve ever done. That seems like a recipe for recruiting wannabe martyrs. In any case, high stakes can blind you to the best moments. One day, I was stressing over what I imagined was my one-man quest to keep Darius in school and out of jail, and missed that a heated dispute between two fifth-graders was escalating. Finally, I asked them what was wrong.

    "Mr. Ramsey," one of the boys pleaded, "will you please tell him that if you go into space for a year and come back to earth that all your family will be dead because time moves slower in space?”

    The essay is from 2008, but it seems not entirely untimely since, in late September, Lil Wayne surpassed Elvis for number of appearances on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

    -Nell

  2. Lil Wayne

    David Ramsey

    Oxford American

    Weekend reading