Right now, I’m living apart from my two cats, and it is possibly the saddest thing that has ever happened to me. OK, not really, but I do make my mother FaceTime them with me, and I take my baby on long walks around the neighborhood on routes one hundred percent dictated by the outdoor cats I want to pet. So I’m equally jealous and excited that, for New York City–dwellers, there’s a better option for those without felines in their lives: a café where people can visit and play with rescue cats is open this weekend! Sure, it’s temporary, but so are lots of other good things, like ice cream cones. Go pet those cats, NYC people!
Questlove has a new column meditating on the past, present, and future of hip-hop at Vulture, and the first installment is a lengthy, twisty, and deep meditation on whether “hip-hop failed black America.” His argument, very loosely, is that hip-hop’s total dominance of mainstream music actually puts black artistic expression in danger. A sample:
Once hip-hop culture is ubiquitous, it is also invisible. Once it’s everywhere, it is nowhere. What once offered resistance to mainstream culture…is now an integral part of the sullen dominant. Not to mention the obvious backlash conspiracy paranoia: Once all of black music is associated with hip-hop, then Those Who Wish to Squelch need only squelch one genre to effectively silence an entire cultural movement.
As he says himself, Questlove does not provide any definitive answers about these ideas, but he gives us a lot to think about.
Lupita Nyong’o has been crowned People’s most beautiful person in the world. It’s a big deal because the magazine’s yearly pick has the power to normalize the person chosen as having a household-beautiful face, particularly important in the case of someone like Nyong’o, who has spoken about growing up and feeling ashamed of her skin tone because most of the images of “beautiful” women in the media have historically been of white women. “I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen,” Nyong’o said. In February, she gave a speech at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood lunch and cited that the rise of Sudanese-British supermodel Alek Wek gave her a little more confidence in herself—and in this lovely video of Nyong’o and Wek meeting for the first time, it comes full circle.
Back in October, we debuted a beautiful track from Argentinian songwriter Juana Molina’s sixth album. This week, the video for that song, “Sin Guia No,” finally dropped, and it’s “inspired by the Hain initiation ceremonies of the Selk’nam people,” a former indigenous tribe of Argentina and Chile. While normally we’d discourage the trying-on of indigenous cultures by non-indigenous people, this seems more like a remembrance of a bygone community (the Selk’nam were completely wiped out by European colonialism by 1974), in keeping with Molina’s goal of exploring and preserving indigenous South American cultures. The Hain ceremony represents a boy’s passage to adulthood, and the costumes in the video, shot in the former Selk’nam territory of Tierra del Fuego, look to be fairly true to photographs of actual Hain participants. This is totally beautiful.
My light, my life, my Courtney Love has dropped her first solo single since 2004, and it’s fire. She howls like it’s 1991 and sings about being a “teenage whore,” and it makes me want to start a mosh pit in the middle of literally any open space I can find. Though the actual double A-side featuring this track, “You Know My Name,” and the forthcoming “Wedding Day” won’t be available for purchase until May 4th, it’s still blastable via her YouTube channel, where you can take breaks in between listens to watch her vlogs.
This week, a lot of attention was paid to a fantastic project which points out the persistence of microaggressions against POC at New York University (aka my school), which one might assume is a liberal institution in the middle of a diverse major city. Over the course of my four years at NYU, I’ve been subjected to so many variations on the gross remarks made to these brave students, as have my friends and peers. I’m so grateful for and empowered by those who speak out about against this “casual” racism not only at NYU, but everywhere else, too.
In the last few months, we have read (and linked to) a lot of discussions about holding celebrated artists who have been accused of sexual assault accountable. Sometimes, amid those fraught conversations, and especially when I power-skim the comments on articles about them (WHY DO I DO THIS?!), I often feel like nothing is changing—that as a culture, this debate never evolves or resolves itself, and it remains a fight to even get people to listen to survivors’ experiences. BUT! Things like this Deadspin piece about why we shouldn’t bury the rape allegation against Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Josh Lueke make me think there is progress; here, the willingness to talk about rape and its effects is extending into the typically macho world of major league sports.
Its writer, Stacey May Fowles, suggests that baseball fans’ constant reminders, including tweeting about the allegations against Lueke and cheering on batters up against him at games, are about the only justice there is to be had, and a crucial reminder for survivors that they are not forgotten. As she writes:
[This outpouring of protests] for the thousands of rape survivors who watch games and know that what they love is sullied by baseball’s willingness to turn a blind eye to the kind of suffering they themselves endured. It’s a gesture on the part of fans who know it’s unlikely Lueke will ever see his career end as a result of those actions, but refuse to tolerate his inclusion, who believe that, while a team may opportunistically decide to field a talented player who has committed an act of sexual violence, it shouldn’t be immune from the disgust of the public.
Brody Dalle has a new album, Diploid Love, coming out next week, and NPR is giving us a first listen of the WHOLE THING! They describe at as “a time capsule buried in the backyard of the punk and grunge-drenched early ’90s and only unearthed today,” which is pretty legit, but my favorite thing about Brody is how her songs make me feel like a bad-ass who can do whatever she wants. I really needed that this week, and if you do too, I particularly recommend checking out the tracks “Don’t Mess With Me” and “Dressed in Dreams.”
This study discusses the significant racial biases of legal reviewers, who are more likely to find spelling and grammatical errors in a legal brief if they believe it was written by a person of color. If someone says racism doesn’t exist, send them this and then feel free to say, “I told you so, YA JERK.”
Slate posted this Mary Gaitskill piece about why we judge other people for their “uncool” tastes. It was originally published in the recent re-release of Carl Wilson’s essay collection Let’s Talk About Love, which uses Celine Dion as a jumping-off point to discuss taste, criticism, and why we like why we like. Gaitskill is one of those people who is basically the pinnacle of intimidating coolness, so to see her come out swinging in defense of someone decidedly “uncool,” like Celine Dion, is pretty incredible, and only makes Gaitskill herself even cooler.
Also very cool: this Toast parody of two Medieval monks inventing maps:
MONK #1: what’s the nearest country to Scotland
MONK #2: a giant lobster ♦