SMH. DC Comics is selling these rather unsettling shirts: One says “Training To Be Batman’s Wife;” the other implies Superman “scoring” with Wonder Woman. OK, OK, I get it—some people love Batman’s mysterious demeanor, and, sure, Wonder Woman is a gem, but it seems that these options are just a little marginalizing to women? Looks kinda fishy to me…
In other news of the world not letting people live, the singer FKA Twigs responded to racist tweets and comments regarding her relationship with the actor Robert Pattinson. The racial slurs casually thrown around Twitter about Twigs were hurtful to see as a black woman myself, but she spoke the truth in a tweet:
Racism is unacceptable in the real world and it's unacceptable online.
— FKA twigs (@FKAtwigs) September 28, 2014
The Aral Sea, which is actually a lake in Asia, has dried up “for the first time in modern history,” as NASA reports:
Although this happened once before, 600 years ago, the aridity is now linked to the former Soviet Union’s irrigation practices starting in the 1950s. According to this story, the Aral Sea was “once the world’s fourth-largest lake,” which means that’s a WHOLE LOT of missing water.
THE Aretha Franklin covered Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep,” which is just one of the tracks from Franklin’s upcoming album Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics. Of COURSE the singer gets all wonderful with some amazing vocal runs as she transforms the sultry song into a more upbeat ditty, which is cool with me. The Queen Of Soul is tackling some other jams on the album, like Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor,” and I’m all just lfkjdslfkjfgpodfg about it on the inside. I can’t wait to hear them.
The New York Times is really working to get us up to date with the latest “trends.” This time, it’s the sweatshirt, which the Times labels “slacker chic” and compares to macaroni and cheese. Sure, comfort is a great thing, but the #normcore/easy-livin’ inclinations of high fashion are just another way the industry rips off Walmart shelves and calls “low-class” style its own. Even though Givenchy recently might have made one of the greatest sweatshirts of ALL TIME, it doesn’t mean that they’ve really revolutionized the damn thing. (That’s unless a huge designer makes a haute couture sweatshirt dress…which I’m ALL for.)
NPR is streaming Ex Hex’s debut album, Rips. Even if you didn’t already swoon over Ex Hex’s Rookie theme song last November, you might be familiar with Ex Hex’s frontwoman, Mary Timony, who previously played in Wild Flag with another of our heroines, Carrie Brownstein, and her own rad band, Helium. Be forewarned: I first tried to stream this album in the background while I got work done, but I COULD NOT do it, Rooks. It kept pulling me in and demanding my full attention!
Our girl Arabelle wrote about the lessons her closet has taught her for The Hairpin. EVERYTHING Arabelle does is brilliant, but I always especially love it when she writes about clothing.
Speaking of Rookies thinking about clothing at The Hairpin, Meredith, one of our newest staff writers, wrote this essay about why it’s messed up when luxury designers like Chanel appropriate the most superficial elements of feminism to sell/promote their clothing.
Alexandra Molotkow breaks down how VICE built its audience and aesthetic—and managed to survive and thrive for 20 years—through its weird tone of maybe-not-that-ironic irony and by courting some of the most interesting writers working throughout its existence, despite (or because of) its sometimes-iffy reputation.
Fiona Apple is my goddess, so it is with great pleasure that I bring you a little over a minute of new Fiona music. Fiona wrote a song called “Container” for the intro of a forthcoming show called The Affair, which is presumably about affairs and murders or something OK who cares back to Fiona. The chorus goes, “I have one thing to do and that’s / Be the wave that I am and then / Sink back into the ocean,” which, like, yes, of course. Even that little bit is exactly the kind of affirmation that I need in my life right now. How does Fiona know what to say to me all the time? If the show is even half as good as this song, then, DAMN, it’s gonna be one good show, but for now, you know what minute-long dream song I’ll be listening to over and over again.
The actress/singer Lea Salonga reprised her role as the voice of Aladdin’s Princess Jasmine with this performance of “Whole New World”, with an accompaniment by the opera group Il Divo. Though it’s been two decades since the movie was made, she’s totally still got the same magic pipes.
I’m very much not down with the news that 35,000 walruses inexplicably gathered together on a beach near Point Lay, Alaska. The theory is that the animals have been forced out of their natural territory by melting ice floes. Is it bad that the most positive-thinking theory behind the gathering is probably mine: that the walrus nation was converging to develop their master plan to take down Monsanto? I for one will support our new flippered leaders on environmental issues.
I have much love for this video of the Hood By Air designer Shayne Oliver taking the rapper Remy Ma on a shopping trip in Opening Ceremony’s showroom. The two talk about the performer’s style—or, rather, Remy talks about her love of sneakers, wearing men’s shirts as dresses, and the general silliness of some gender-specific clothing.
I am a big fan of the Hunger Games series and generally in awe of Lorde, so you can imagine how excited I was to learn that there would be a glorious meshing of these two wonders. “Yellow Flicker Beat” is, as Lorde wrote on her Tumblr, “the first offering of a soundtrack” for Mockingjay: Part 1 that she hopes we will love. She says that this was an attempt to get in Katniss’ head, and I think she did a perfect job of keeping a complicated character intact, maintaining ruthlessness with a side of softness. This song represents everything I love about her music: It’s menacing, eerie, catchy, and dripping with the kind of vicious imagery that conflates blood and rubies. I can’t wait to see what she does with the rest of this soundtrack.
The poet and author of The Book of Interfering Bodies, Daniel Borzutzky, wrote this brilliant essay on transnationalism and identities that are severed from their ethnic homeland. Borzutzky argues that identities aren’t fixed or simple, culling from his own experience as a “falso-Chilean” in Chicago, where his Chilean roots have either been emphasized so certain institutions can seem more diverse, or dismissed, which leads him to reconstruct what it means to be Latino both in and outside Latin America. My favorite part of the essay is an internal response to a dean saying he’s not a “real Latino”:
But we are all Chileans, I wanted to tell her. Our college just got millions of dollars from a private foundation to replace math teachers with “computer-based instruction.” It doesn’t get more Chilean than that. We’re not magical realists, I wanted to tell her. We are, what the real Chilean novelist Alberto Fuguet calls, “Magical Neoliberalists.” I wanted to tell her that I eat Taco Bell when I visit my family in Santiago. It’s across the street from what used to be Blockbuster video, right around the corner from TGI Fridays. But I think she wanted a little more folklore with her salsa verde, a little more spice on her rice.
The writer Carolyn Zaikowski brings up a really important point in this essay about the literary community’s hesitance to identify rapists and predators in its own circles:
Rape subculture in “alternative” communities is often doubly insidious because our individual and group identities are molded precisely around an idea that we are not that. We are not dumb jocks; we’re poetry freaks! We’re intellectuals! We know the language of feminism!
As girls are coming forward to talk about rape within these alternative literary communities, Zaikowski stresses the importance of bringing light to the issues that silence young women in literary circles, including these abusers’ power to manipulate language, the idol worship of living writers, and the publishing disparity among genders. She ends the post by noting that the refusal to acknowledge these issues in such communities is a part of rape culture itself. I’m hoping that more women will address the problem of gender disparity and power in creative communities and continue to be brave enough to speak up about their experiences.
Rookie contributor Meagan’s “What’s Underneath” video for StyleLikeU is so beautiful. The eloquence with which she talks about gaslighting, sexual rebirth, and finding courage after a breakup and, instead, making it a powerful and potent time of transformation makes me feel so honored to be her friend.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is one of my favorite humans on this planet. I am intensely fascinated by the levels of complexity in h/er work as a performance/visual artist and musician with Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV. Genesis touches on higher states of consciousness and the limitations of the internet in an interview with DIS Magazine, and it’s beyond fascinating. I’ve read through this piece at least five times already and am still finding more to think about.
New York City is finally ending the practice of putting its jails’ teenage inmates in solitary confinement. A quick-style primer on what solitary is: In U.S. jails, it’s the term for when people are incarcerated in tiny rooms all by themselves with little to no possessions or distractions for 22 to 24 hours a day. Contact with any other human being is either SEVERELY limited or straight-up nonexistent. They can stay there for anywhere from a few days to years at a time. Basically, imagine the most extreme loneliness or boredom you’ve ever felt, then multiply it by the entire universe. Even “short” periods of time in solitary can be irreversibly damaging to a person’s mental health and greatly increase their risk of self-harm, especially if that person is a minor—according to the Campaign for Youth Justice, the chance that a person under 18 will commit suicide becomes 19 times higher if that person is subjected to solitary.
To that end, read this story about Kalief Browder, a boy who was unjustly arrested and jailed at age 17 after a stranger accused him of stealing a backpack, even though the complainant changed his account many times and had no witnesses. Browder spent almost 17 whole months, barring a few weeks, in solitary confinement and tried to kill himself twice while there (he continued his attempts even after he was released from jail). He was incarcerated at New York City’s Rikers Island prison, a poorly regulated hellscape of a jail complex where many prisoners, including those who are underage and/or mentally ill, are routinely abused by guards to the point of torture (as you may know from lynx past). This extends to the culture of solitary confinement there, too:
In solitary, violence was a threat. Verbal spats with officers could escalate. At one point, Browder said, “I had words with a correction officer, and he told me he wanted to fight. That was his way of handling it.” […] The officer challenge[d] inmates to fights in the shower, where there are no surveillance cameras. “So I agreed to it; I said, ‘I’ll fight you.’ ” The next day, the officer came to escort him to the shower, but before they even got there, he said, the officer knocked him down: “He put his forearm on my face, and my face was on the floor, and he just started punching me in the leg.” Browder isn’t the first inmate to make such an allegation; the U.S. Attorney’s report described similar incidents.
The logic we’re taught since the time we’re kids often goes that people put in jail are bad, scary criminals, not like you and me, and that they’re there so that they can’t get to the good people. The truth is usually a lot more complex than that, particularly when it comes to the jailing of people who are, themselves, those same kids. Do you believe that, even if people ARE irreversibly bad and scary (which, if they are, is sometimes thanks to direly bad/scary things happening to them in their pasts, or to being born with brains programmed to “bad/scary” at birth), they deserve to be tortured? And doesn’t it seem not only cruel, but counterintuitive, reckless, and backward to further torment prisoners, particularly those who will eventually be released and back among the rest of the world, instead of rehabilitate them? In any case: No human being deserves this. There is no justification for a system that’s set up to hurt people. Especially when it’s hurting kids. I’m relieved that New York City is realizing this at long last, but wish this reformation extended to all jails, and all the people in them.
I love baby seals more than anything, so when I saw photos of a baby seal sunning itself on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, well, I died. I am writing this from the grave. ♦