This post has been in gestation for years. Whenever there’s a new flare-up concerning Twitter, which is comically often, I dip into my Drafts folder and dust off this post, but due to the exasperating complexity of the topic, never muster the polish to hit Publish. It happened last summer, during the public tussle over purported “shadow banning,” which induced John Herrman to write “Twitter’s Misguided Quest to Become a Forum for Everything,” and again during the fracas over Sarah Jeong’s tweets, which induced Ezra Klein to write “Twitter Is Not Your Friend.” These skirmishes arise at a steady clip, and the sturm und drang surged again last week, after the abject failure of something regrettably called #KaraJack, which induced Taylor Lorenz to write “It’s Impossible to Follow a Conversation on Twitter.” …
Have you ever had that feeling when some goddamn tweet pricks the edge of your consciousness, and the pang just hangs there, like a subcutaneous stinger, pestering you for days? I speak not of the latest Kanye witticism, but of this choice specimen, which has been needling me, gnat-like, since first poking my feed:
Ouch, that stings. Or as the kids like to say, It me.
As Rian diagnoses it, the onset of this affliction, in which one develops an inexplicable interest in historical content, begins circa The Big 4-0. In my case, some insidious microbe entered my bloodstream around this age, and immediately began eradicating all prior hobbies and interests. My inner child — once capable of contemplating ambitious pastimes like “brushing up on my French” or “maybe learning to play the mandolin” — died a sad quiet death. …
If my life has a recurring theme, it might just be the aborted attempts at creating a public diary of media. Carve it into thy tombstone:
Here lies a failed blogger.
But if at first we don’t succeed, fail fail again. So one more time, with feeling: The Ledger, a weekly compendium of ideas, articles, videos, projects, and various linky ephemera.
Civilizations. New personal project: I am rewatching every episode of Civilization (Kenneth Clarke’s epic 1969 series about western art and philosophy since the middle ages) paired with each new episode of Civilizations (the updated, globalized version currently airing on PBS). Despite their pedigree (note the pluralization), they are wildly distinct creatures, barely deserving of the same phylum. In the original, the first episode launches into a groaning organ fugue; John Ruskin is soon quoted. …
It’s hard to keep up, so I’ll be updating this cheat sheet:
During summers in college, I used to fly up to Alaska to work in fish canneries, where in a month I could make almost enough money to live for another year. I chronicled the events in the diaristic story “Dreaming of Dead Fish,” published in the Fall of 1995 in the alt-weekly that I co-edited, the High Plains Reader (which is still around).
Below is that article, the longest thing I had published at the time. It is reprinted completely unedited, despite how much it desperately needs editing. The sentence structure is clunky as fuck, packed with trite phrases like “the difficulty lies in” and “drinking my head straight.” …
Below is the mammoth 75-page questionnaire that potential jurors in “The People v. O.J. Simpson” had to answer. It must be one of the longest personality quizzes in history.
I. FAMILY HISTORY-BACKGROUND.
2. Are you male or female?
3. What is your race? (please circle)
d.) Asian-Pacific Islander?
e.) Other (please state)?
4. Marital status:
— Single and never married?
— Single, but living with non-marital mate. For how long?
— Currently married? Length of marriage?
— Divorced? When divorced? Length of previous marriage? Did you initiate the divorce? Yes? No?
— Widowed? …
These were all culled from my inbox over the past month. You all should be thankful to be alive in these times.
This week’s comprehensive media diary, with the usual recommended items in bold:
This week’s comprehensive media diet diary of everything I watched/read/heard:
This time of the year, people make lists: Top 10s, Best 20s, Superlative 50s. These lists are seldom definitive: Who really saw everything in the list category? And why include only the top items in your list? They fake their authority.
I can truthfully say this list is definitive — it contains every one of the 53 narrative feature films that I saw that were released this year. (An additional list of 20 documentaries will be published next week.)
In the process of ranking, one factor superseded all others: enthusiasm. I found myself asking: How many times did you recommend Clouds of Sils Maria? How few times did you start conversations about The Martian? How many debates occurred over Steve Jobs versus Trumbo? …