Who Killed Tulum? – Reeves Wiedeman
NY Magazine’s The Cut, February 20, 2019
When Wall Street is Your Landlord – Alana Semuels
The Atlantic, March 5, 2019
The Big Business of Becoming Bhad Bhabie – Jamie Lauren Keiles
NY Times, July 3, 2018
The Body Hunters – Marcia Angell
The New York Review of Books, October 6, 2005
I started saving articles in Pocket in late 2015. As a result, the vast majority of stuff in there is miserable to read. In fact, I saved some of this stuff because it was too depressing to read at the time; there’s a GQ piece called “How Puerto Rico Became the Newsest Tax Haven for the Super Rich” that I open and close like twice a month because I just can’t bear it. I plan to read hundreds of articles like this in 2019.
Anyone who follows the news risks drowning in the ceaseless sea of content. But I’ve already sunk to the bottom. There, I’ve condensed the last three years into a lake of poisonous brine. Day after day I risk its toxicity, hoping I’ll find the bottom before it overwhelms me completely. But it’s not all bad. There’s a few uplifting articles in there, carefully tagged “light” so they’re easy to see.
Which brings us to Bhad Bhabie. I’d just immersed myself in three globe-spanning stories of capitalist immiseration. What better way to rinse myself off than a puffy profile of a viral teen turned appropriative pop star?
But I had misjudged. I underestimated Keiles, who does a masterful job giving her more heinous subjects enough rope to make mock of themselves while treating the profile’s young centerpiece with kindness. Worse, I’d glossed over the word “business” in the headline.
The same people star in all four of these articles. The hypocritical pseudo-hippies of Tulum; the pharma execs running coercive trials in Africa; the private equity landlords neglecting their tenants nationwide; the cynical manager trying to wring every drop of fame from one viral moment; there’s one screaming through-line connecting them all.
I worry a lot about bias in my media diet. I could be reading too much lefty bullshit. Maybe there are equivalent stories out there that show how wonderful free markets are, how well they promote human happiness. If you find any, please send them my way. I’d love to read them. After all, what’s one more drop in the sea?
New and Interesting
- Michael Jackson Cast a Spell. ‘Leaving Neverland’ Breaks It – Wesley Morris is the greatest and I am treating his take on this documentary as definitive. This is in large part because I don’t want to watch something that will further horrify me.
- The Cutest Animal on Instagram is Possibly in Your Trash Can – I read this entirely because the subhead includes the word “verminfluencers” and that kind of portmanteau deserves respect.
- Visions of Destruction – Did you know all the bats are dying? All the bats are dying. This is because of climate change, which means its because of capitalism, which means this piece could have been included in the section above but it was too new. The world is doomed and I am sad about the bats.
- Did you know the average American goes through about three rolls of toilet paper in a week? And that America consumes 20% of all toilet paper, globally? It is important to have a comfortable and healthy b’hole but this seems excessive.
- How Google, Microsoft, and Big Tech Are Automating the Climate Crisis – Gizmodo left Amazon out of the headline because it’s not the least bit shocking that they’re devoid of morals.
- Love Letter to a Soulless Corporation – It is nice to see this in a leftist rag like Current Affairs. It doesn’t matter if the best cup of coffee you ever had came from Starbucks or Stumptown. It was still the best you ever had. The general refusal to understand how people can form a deep connection to something a certain class of person sees as low-quality is one of the major obstacles standing in the way of broader solidarity.
- Trump, Cohen, Subpoenas, Ilhan Omar, Antisemitism, Climate Change, Various Flavors of Congressional Drama, The Trade Deficit Is Huge
- Also Luke Perry died.