This week, the Olympics. Two Koreas march as one. Starman and his convertible hang in space. Rob Porter resigns. DOJ’s Rachel Brand resigns too—for a “great job” at Walmart. (Trump < Walmart.) Trump orders for tanks in the street. There's a petition for the New York Times to restore the graphic novels best sellers list. An enterprising girl selling Girl Scout cookies outside a cannabis dispensary is all but celebrated. The market moves into correction territory (but you probably haven’t invested anyway). And Tronc sells the LA Times to a very rich doctor.
There’s nothing profoundly new that Hua Hsu has to add in his New Yorker appreciation of The Face and, more broadly, the way magazines were back in the 90s before they knew they were at the end of it all. But we’ll admit, this stuff is crack to us. There was, and is, a magic to that last great era of lifestyle magazines that we’ve never truly replaced, and Hsu captures something here that explains why we continue, despite ourselves, to make print magazines even now.
I still buy old magazines, at flea markets and bookstores as well as on the Internet. It’s not just an exercise in nostalgia, a rediscovery of cherished old codes and secrets, a daydream about pin-rolled jeans. It’s about a different experience of time. The feeling I get when I pick up an old issue of The Face is a sense of boundedness. These magazines were portals to other lives, systems of taste I learned by acquiring the small talismans and minute gestures that held these worlds up. It’s why I used to make my own zines, sending signals into the wilderness. The universe was expansive and evolving, infinite and unknowable—except for those dozen times a year when a small part of it arrived on newsstands and in certain bookstores and came, momentarily, into focus.
Your soundtrack to this week’s readings – Johann Johannsson’s IBM 1, from IBM 1401: A User’s Manual. In thinking about Johannsson’s tragic death this week, mostly we’re listening to the ways the hope emerges rapturously from the gloom in pieces like this. Hold onto that.
This week in Saskatchewan, an all-white jury acquitted farmer Gerald Stanley of the second-degree murder of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, though he had pretty much admitted to shooting him point blank in the back of the head. As First Nations communities across the country reel in shock from the verdict, you don’t need our opinions on this — a) read Robert Jago instead, b) never let anyone speak of Canada as a woke, progressive utopia without responding with Boushie’s name in kind.
Somewhat related, J Source look at the news desert that is Thunder Bay, Ontario, where police corruption, racism and a chain of unsolved murders remain barely touched on by a destitute local press. When there are no more reporters left on the shoeleather beats, all we’re left with is police statements, word for word, chewing on the meaning of the term “news poverty.”
“My favorite recipe for a turmeric elixir is simple: I drink something else instead.”
Five years back, when Netflix used to send DVDs through the mail, they scored an exclusive streaming deal with Disney. Now ever protective of its brand integrity and no longer dazed by digital disruptors, The House of Mouse is planning a streaming service of its own. As Netflix scrambles to produce billions of dollars of content to fill the hole this would leave in its library, publishers like Vox and Condé Nast are champing at the bit too. This feels like an early sign of the Netflix slide—especially as YouTube and Facebook start to invest in original content.
For Gizmodo, Kashmir Hill willingly gives her entire house over to an oppressive array of smart devices. The resulting report (in collaboration with data reporter Surya Mattu) is great fun, focussing not so much on the privacy concerns we harp on here, but instead “how infuriating it is to live in a janky smart home.” This also reminded us, for no particular reason, that it had been a while since we’d read Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains”. Good story, that one.