TV

Ugly Donald, from Queens

Ugly Donald, from Queens

His voice has stayed in my ear

He roamed the streets with a television camera, looking for women to proposition. He was somewhere between a talent scout for a modeling agency, a casting director, and a photographer, but he conducted his business not in a studio, or an office, behind closed doors. Rather, he strolled the boulevards of midtown Manhattan, dressed outlandishly. Even though the drama of his half-hour shows culminated—or did not culminate—in revealed breasts, some of which I still recall, the most vivid imagery of the show were the shots of Ugly George himself, a lunatic in hot pants, shirtless in the summer, with a huge camera on his shoulders, strolling through midtown amidst a sea of people in suits.

A Gathering of Wolves

A Gathering of Wolves

Fascist America, like America in general, has rarely had a problem with absorbing the cultural output of those it seeks to destroy

To anyone psychically invested in the velvet glove of normal life, we are already in the throes of an insurrection that must be stamped out. We are nearing the end of a summer that taught us nothing is inviolable, not precincts and not the promise that black people will entertain us to the bitter end. Republicans know that what has been unleashed will not be pacified easily. Pat Lynch, the head of the NYPD union, gave a speech castigating the left and the Democrats and all but swearing fealty to Trump. The congressional Democrats who embarrassingly kneeled in kente cloth were featured in a video roll call of radicalism alongside the DSA and toppled Confederate statues.

How Russia Learned to Start Worrying

How Russia Learned to Start Worrying

Russian coronavirus disinformation exists. Until April, its main audience was domestic.

The news was not “fake,” but the measures were hardly enforced. Social media that weekend was full of photographs of groups of people congregating in picnic areas to grill shashlik. One of the patriots in the banya chat wrote that he had seen beat cops ticketing a babushka just for sitting on a bench outside, but the cops in the group were sure that he was making it up. It was clear that no one had any idea what was supposed to be happening.

Game of Groans

Game of Groans

Green Hitlers, narrative prostheses, and the final episode of the world-pummeling HBO blockbuster

As the fanboys and reply guys will leap to point out, Game of Thrones is set in a fantasy world and thus is not offering us a historically accurate version of the European medieval past. But it is, at another level, just as obviously set in a version of that past, albeit one with giants and dragons and the living dead. And insofar as that temporal orientation is the case, in its final maneuvers the show cheats its viewers of the capacity to respect the very pastness of that past by overlaying a presentist moral logic of political development onto it. In this narcissistic political schema, characters who are untroubled by monarchy are evil, while characters who support electoral systems are good. The effect of this rigged historical framework is to generate a smug sense of quasi-recognition, coating the sedimented layers of a past-that-never-was with a zesty little spritz of incipience.

Check Out the Neymar Rolling Meme

Check Out the Neymar Rolling Meme

World Cup update

Uruguay vs. Portugal brought us, mercifully, to the point where Ronaldo was also gone. Nothing against either of them, but their presence is such that even having one of them involved means the epic Messi–Ronaldo debate eats up all the air time and “analysis.” Men who know nothing pontificate. Good and evil are spoken of in utter seriousness. 7 percent of the internet is devoted to this debate, so let me take a moment to end it. They are both utterly amazing! And brace yourselves: they are equally amazing, and they are differently amazing. I don’t know why this is so hard for people to accept. There is no way, in a team sport, to bring the issue to further clarity, so I recommend everyone drops this line of debate. Please, take the fact that the universe put them out in the same round as a sign.

The Church of Food

The Church of Food

On Anthony Bourdain, 1956–2018

The episodes about regions of great migration, which frequently covered cities outside of Europe, revealed that Bourdain’s sense of food could follow a people beyond their national borders and recent history. In an episode on Tanzania, a snack of Mandazi (a fried dough Swahili dish) and Bagias (a fried lentil dish) became a way of describing Indian migration and Zanzibar’s multi-ethnic history. In Houston, conversation over a meal at a restaurant that blends Indian and Pakistani food transitioned smoothly to a portrait of Houston, as a city in which people from all over the world are co-mingling. The mixing of culinary cultures for Bourdain was the best record we had of ethnic migration and mixing. In this, Bourdain was like Hortense Spillers in “Peter’s Pans.” After pages of dense criticism attempting to reckon with a history of physical, economic, and epistemic violence against African-Americans, Spillers sketched a culinary tour of the food of African-derived people as evidence of the past’s lingering, far-reaching and ever-changing grasp on the present. For Spillers and for Bourdain, the blending of flavors on a plate was history in motion.

Feel Something Again

Feel Something Again

On Superbowl LIII

When it looked like the aging Brady might make good on the automaker’s threat, Artemis smiled, picked up her bow, and sent Brandon Graham to restore order to the universe. After the fumble, Brady still got the ball back once more, now down by eight with a little over a minute left and no time outs, but it was too much, even for him, and Pats fans watching knew it. Still I will always cherish the absolute reticence of the Eagles fans to declare it over when it was. The shot of Philly waiting in disbelief to start celebrating that they had, in fact, beaten Tom Brady and won the Super Bowl will go down in my mind as one of the highest compliments ever paid to a competitor. When Brady was on the field, it wasn’t over until it was over and sometimes not even then.