I’m in romantic love with the writing of Charles Aaron, who was once the “Staff Boy” at Sassy and is now an Editor-at-Large at SPIN, so naturally I beamed mental valentines at his witty and wonderful list of the 25 best albums of 2013. A sample from the intro: “For the first time in ages, music was actually more interesting and compelling than TV (oh, god forbid!). Let’s celebrate by…cranking ‘***Flawless’ while we get low with our partially employed asses.” 10-4, over and out!
Remember how I freaked over the New York Times story that followed Dasani Coates, a homeless pre-teen, and that shed light on the immense class divides in New York City? If so, you might understand why I bawled uncontrollably at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inauguration earlier this week, when the city’s new public advocate, Letitia “Tish” James, had Dasani join her for James’s induction. James gave a mobilizing speech (a portion of which you can see above) about her dedication to fighting the longstanding economic inequality that threatens to push all non-richies out of New York for good. Her words, and the ceremony on the whole, inflated my heart with hope that not all politicians serve the interests of the wealthy. Some of them, like de Blasio and his administration, seem to be prioritizing care for all people instead, and it’s utterly thrilling to me.
And the briefest bit of other de Blasio radness in a week that was an OCEAN of de Blasio radness: The new mayor stated this week that he’s shutting down the cruel, unnecessary horse-drawn carriage industry that has long treated its service animals like garbaggio. THANKS, DUDE!
LOOK AT THIS ANIMAL, WHOSE NAME IS THE PINK FAIRY ARMADILLO. I just got an email from Rookie writer Julianne (more on her in a minute) that basically just read “UH OMG” about this little toughie, and I AGREE WITH HER WHOLEHEARTEDLY. I just imagined this thing having a play-date with my cat and now I’m deceased from joy. Also, as J. just emailed me AGAIN in all-caps, “IT DIGS WITH ITS BUTT.”
I was mighty pleased earlier this week when Deadspin posted this essay about celebrating the holidays by one of my all-time world-class favorite writers, Luc Sante. I love this dude for his accounts of history, which are unsentimental but still totally gorgeous (if you’re new to him, start with this piece about youth and loving the place you live—it’s heart-druggingly impactful without the kind of I’m-so-special ~nostalgia~ that you might expect from something like that).
This article, entitled “Why We Get Stupid and Shitfaced on New Year’s Eve,” maintains that tone while breaking down the four elements behind most New Year’s celebrations globally, which he calls “mortification, purgation, invigoration, and jubilation.” I know New Year’s has passed, but if you’re still in the spirit (or want to be validated about for having been to begin with), it is worth a read.
Beyoncé continues her assault on our feelings with the latest from her Self-Titled series of videos, which chronicle the making of her newest album. This installment, “Liberation,” gives us super-personal insight into her recording process: She set herself up in a big house in the Hamptons with Jay, Blue Ivy, and her songwriters and producers and got down to business. She opens the video by saying, “Just because you become a mother, it doesn’t mean you lose who you are,” and proves it by detailing how she alternated between freestyling the lyrics to “Partition” and breastfeeding Blue. So far, each video in this series has ended with “To be continued…” and I hope it continues forever, until the end of time.
Rookie’s own princess of potions and powder, Arabelle, put out a web zine this week on how she motivates herself to keep pushing and stomping out the hurdles that keep her from thriving and surviving. It’s essential reading, and since she welcomes anyone who needs it to print off copies to hold and keep, I recommend keeping it under your pillow to absorb dreams and tears.
Julianne wrote about the year in style for Rolling Stone, and I am SO THANKFUL to see (1) all my favorite pop stars’ goth looks in one place and (2) Kim Kardashian’s New Order dress getting praise.
On the first day of 2014, the actor James Avery passed away at the age of 68 due to complications from open-heart surgery. To many, he will forever be known as Uncle Phil, the stern but loving father figure who took in Will Smith’s character on the wildly popular ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. My friend Rembert Browne wrote a lovely obituary for James Avery at Grantland, and the scene above shows exactly why he was the perfect stand-in pops for a whole generation of TV watchers.
Since late November, a brand-new island has been forming off the coast of Japan as a result of volcanic activity. Experts aren’t sure whether the island is permanent, as volcanoes in this area regularly make new islands that are eventually swallowed up by the ocean, but so far this one is eight times bigger than it was a month ago. Upon its last measurement, it was 1,640 feet across, and is starting to connect to Nishino Shima, a longstanding island nearby. That would be amazing enough on its own, but even more incredible? From an aerial view, the new island and Nishino Shima look like Snoopy.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a new movie based on the real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who was seduced by the debauched culture of money and drugs that pervaded the finance sector in the 1980s and ’90s. The film, starring Leonardo diCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese, has been praised by critics, but Joanne Lipman, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in the ’80s, just wrote a fascinating/cringeworthy piece about how thoroughly The Wolf of Wall Street erases the women who were working on Wall Street in those days, and the horrors they endured while men like Jordan Belfort were partying like there was no tomorrow. “Ask any woman who worked around finance in the movie’s era what she thought about sexual harassment,” writes Lipman, “and her answer will likely be a shrug: ‘We called it going to work.’” It really makes you appreciate what those women went through.
this beautiful earth is now officially 2014 years old, amazing
— $afiyyah nawaz (@safiyyahn) January 1, 2014
At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day, Safiyyah Nawaz invoked the wrath of the internet by posting the tweet above, which she calls a “simple harmless joke.” Some dummies didn’t get it, and shortly thereafter, the 17-year-old began receiving 140-character, racist-hogwash-laden insults and death threats.
Why’s this my fave thing, then? In response to all this abuse, Nawaz parlayed internet infamy into a platform for herself and her favorite causes. She cracked jokes, announced her upcoming candidacy for president alongside potential running mate Snoop Lion, called out bigotry, put in a word for a Syria relief fund, and advocated for recycling and suicide awareness. By the end of the day, Nawaz had been offered concert tickets by Snoop, and Questlove even jumped in to say he wanted to be her Secretary of Defense. Internet bullies, sit down.
Growing up in the ’90s, I was obsessed with Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, two excellent figure skaters who vied to compete in the Winter Olympics in 1994. That year, their lives and careers were forever changed when Tonya hired someone to hurt Nancy and take her out of the running…or so the media would’ve had us believe. In this beautifully written Believer essay, Sarah Marshall gives us insight into Tonya and Nancy as they really were. It’s a little gut-wrenching to see how Tonya’s story got re-written by the media to fit a more-palatable narrative, with little regard for the truth. She may not have been completely innocent in this case, but she definitely wasn’t the monster everyone made her out to be.
My love for the internet is true and real, in part because through it I’ve met the coolest girls and women. They inspire me, make me laugh and think, and otherwise change my life constantly. In this essay, Jenna Wortham talks about all the lady friendships she’s made this year and the amazing ways in which they’ve affected her. When I read it, I just nodded my hair in agreement. Here’s to another year, and a lifetime thereafter, of female friendships that make your life better.
The Veronica Mars movie (in select theaters March 14th, AHHHH!!!) is probably my most highly anticipated movie of the year, so I pretty much died when I learned that the trailer is out now. When I picked myself up, I watched Veronica head back to her hometown, Neptune, to investigate the murder that her old flame, Logan, has been accused of. She also attends her high school reunion and makes all the quips I could only daydream about coming up with. My only complaint: Where’s Weevil?! I’m counting down the days until the movie comes out and I get to see him!
Sir Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are real-life besties, and all I needed this New Year’s Eve was a video of these wonderful men blowing noisemakers to “Auld Lang Syne” in novelty 2014 glasses. I still haven’t figured out why we play this song at New Year’s, but am so glad these two did. Happy 2014, everybody! ♦