Maybe you guys have heard about the brand-new and overwhelmingly fabulous “visual album” that Beyoncé released out of NOWHERE on Thursday night? The one with a music video for every single song? Many of us at Rookie collectively froke out so hard that, as of the time I’m writing this on Friday evening, we had written 343 Facebook comments back and forth to one another in under 24 hours. DAMN, right? Watch this teaser of the full-length video for her new track “Flawless,” which samples a speech from the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (an excerpt: “Why do we teach [girls] to aspire to marriage? We raise girls to view each other as competitors—not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing—but for the attention of men”) and you’ll be like, “Only 343? You guys were kind of laid-back about this amazing fucking thing, huh?”
Rookie contributor Hazel collected some of the best Twitter responses to Beyoncé’s album for Rolling Stone, if you want some idea of how much of a BRAIN MELTDOWN we and seemingly everybody else on the internet experienced en masse when the record dropped. Even as someone who hasn’t always been a BEYONCÉ SUPERFAN, it’s hard not to completely bug out when you hear it; it’s a high-concept, hyper-thoughtful display of person-ness and artistry, and it’s giving me fucking EVERYTHING I NEED at this particular moment.
Another thing I found totally staggering, albeit in an entirely different way, this week was this impeccably-reported, heart-ruining New York Times story about homeless children in New York City. It followed one girl, 11-year-old Dasani, through a year of her life, during which her family battles addiction and faces eviction from the shelter they live in. You will probably gulp back tears when it’s revealed that a winter jacket donated by a school security guard is one of Dasani’s few possessions and become utterly incensed at the indifference toward the economic underclass by millionaire-plus politicians in New York over the past decade. This story is as infuriating as it is sad, but it’s also boiling over with hope and beauty thanks to Dasani, a person who has had to be stronger in her tiny lifetime than most people five times her age, and is still exuberant and lovely in the way she goes about living.
The dedicated work of the journalist Andrea Elliott in this story is important and revelatory. As someone who lives comfortably in the same city where Dasani dwells, I’m grateful for this look into what life can be like here, and to consider what I might do to share my unbelievable good luck with neighbors who have had a string of terrible breaks. If you’re feeling like you want to share your own good fortune this winter, donate some time or resources to the New York–based anti-homelessness charity Bowery Residents’ Committee, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, or your local shelter.
Two casually rad human beings, the writer Mary Gaitskill and the musician Kim Gordon, sat down in conversation for Interview magazine, and it made my brain thrum like a radiator cranked to its highest setting. Gaitskill is a confrontational, terse interviewer in the best possible way, and Gordon meets her with thoughtfulness and grace throughout their conversation, which covers fashion, art, love, men, and ocean waves versus brain waves. I loved hanging out inside their big ideas.
After @wolfpupy, @Seinfeld2000 is my favorite thing about the popular website Twitter.com. @Seinfeld2000 a parody account of another parody account (I KNOW, BEAR WITH ME), @SeinfeldToday, which is a straightforward modern reimagining of the ’90s sitcom Seinfeld. @Seinfeld2000, on the other hand, is a self-aware, intentionally misspelled skewering of the other account—the main characters are named Jary, Garge, and Elane—and its anonymous writer wrote a column for Noisey this week about the best imagined Seinfeld-based albums of 2013 that serves as a good little introduction to his/her bizarro imaginary world.
While I genuinely LOVE Queen Bey’s self-titled surprise album for its musical merits, what moves me the most is that this particular piece of artistry is a love letter to all of us who have been told we were too [fill in the blank] or not [fill in the blank] enough to achieve an unattainable ideal of perfect womanhood—or even to be a “good enough” feminist. Not so long ago, Ms. Knowles Carter faced backlash for her provocative costume at the Chime for Change concert, and she’s caught flak for expressing her own idea of female strength. Queen B owns who she is and she shares her triumphs and failures without apology. For this reason and many more, I’m sharing Professor Crunk from Crunk Feminist Collective’s “5 Reasons I’m Here for Beyoncé, the Feminist,” a piece that celebrates Beyoncé’s trajectory as a “work in progress” who is going to keep innovating, groundbreaking, and shaking up the world—haters, shamers, and policers be damned.
Bey isn’t the only one dropping hot new videos this week—check out “Butt Dial,” the latest episode of Andy Kindler’s web procedural, Kids’ Court!
The moment when Judge Kindler CRACKS THE CASE WIDE OPEN by hoodwinking a small child—I know it’s “wrong” or whatever on some moral/ethical level, but it is HIGH DRAMA and MAXIMUM LAFFS.
G̶e̶n̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶R̶o̶l̶e̶s̶ Pizza Rolls
— Totinos (@totinos) December 12, 2013
As if Totino’s Pizza Rolls didn’t already have enough of my business, they totally won Twitter this week. Well done, Totino’s.
I am fascinated by happy-go-lucky-seeming businesses that end up being riddled with LIES AND CORRUPTION. Like, any Disney conspiracy theory, no matter how far-fetched, has my attention. So when I read this story on the rise and fall of Lisa Frank, the brand famous for its technicolor school supplies covered with adorable animals, I was enthralled. It turns out that inside those rainbow-unicorn-covered pencil holders lie tales of employee abuse and illicit love affairs.
Also, some guy tried to get internet-famous by baking a bunch of cookies that looked like iPhones and then held them while he drove in order to bait police. When I first heard about this, I thought it just sounded like a really elaborate waste of cookies. Like, what was he trying to protest? The very helpful laws that hinder people from causing accidents by using their phones while driving? His ability to joke around with the law because he’s a white dude who won’t be seen as a threat? Whatever, turns out the guy had a warrant out for unpaid parking tickets, so he got arrested. LESSON: Don’t be a jerk and, most important, DON’T WASTE COOKIES.
Charles Mudede wrote a piece in the Stranger this week debunking the white myth of a “post-racial society,” and he did it with ART. He interviewed the Seattle/Brooklyn hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction about their “Black Weirdo” parties and movement, and there are some beautiful here, like this quote from the filmmaker Terence Nance: “I come from and operate within the vast and infinite Universe that is blackness, and a wise and beautiful goddess I used to date once told me that the first word in the definition of weird in the OED is magical, and art-making is nothing if not magic.”
Meanwhile, our own Eleanor Hardwick just launched her zine project, Twenty Thirteen. From here, it looks entirely magical, and—buddy bonus!—includes our other contributor girlfrens Olivia Bee and Dana Boulos!
This gallery of racist “microaggressions,” a term defined by Columbia professor Derald Sue as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color,” is pretty cathartic for those of who are us all too familiar with experiences like the ones portrayed here. The photographer, Kiyun, is a 19-year-old Fordham student who had the brilliant idea to take portraits of her friends holding signs displaying “an instance of microaggression” they’ve faced.
I LOVED C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series when I was a kid. I read and reread the books about the Pevensie kids’ adventures after they found a passage to Narnia in the back of a wardrobe. In the first book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I loved wise Aslan and the wicked White Witch, and the later books had their own lovable characters and sense of adventure
I devoured them all, but the final installment, The Last Battle, made me feel real weird. After an epic battle involving Earth, Narnia, and time itself, the Pevensies are invited to “real Narnia”—all of them, that is, except Susan, the eldest girl, who we’re told is “interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations.” As J.K. Rowling says in this here Tumblr post, Susan has “become irreligious basically because she found sex. I have a big problem with that.” Then follows a glorious rant by the Tumblrer that imagines what the real, queenly life of Susan Pevensie might have been like after Narnia: She wears men’s shirts, gets an education, maybe has children, and protests wars—i.e., she is a LADY BOSS. Totally awesome in a week that’s all about queens (LUV U, BEY)!
Heathers is one of those movies that shaped my personality in a big way. It’s not just one of my faves—it’s part of me, you know? Generally, when there’s talk of remaking something I love like that, I’m completely freaked out by it, so I was relieved when I learned back in August that Heathers was NOT going to be made into a TV show, as had been previously planned. But when I heard that Heathers IS going to be made into an off-Broadway musical next year, I totally squeed. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I love musicals that’s making this work for me—I mean, just IMAGINE the song they could write about corn nuts—or that it’s a different format than movie/TV, or that being an off-Broadway production just seems to suit a dark comedy/cult classic like Heathers. Even though I’m excited, I still can’t imagine anyone but Winona as Veronica or Christian Slater as JD, and since I don’t live in New York, I probably won’t get to see it, but I really hope I can get my hands on the soundtrack. ♦