Holy fuck! I fucking loved the internet this week. Highlights: Donald Hall died, JVN is queen of Queer Eye, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, Lucille Clifton will always be a boss, Terrance Hayes has mastered American sonnets, Tessa Thompson has BDE which is also a thing, being a fan of XXXTenaction is complex, Ollie’s Trolly makes dope burgers, and it is always nice to connect with old friends.
1. The Paris Review: Donald Hall, 1928–2018
Donald Hall was most known for his poems but published in most literary genres. Hall was the first poetry for The Paris Review and received a National Medal of Art in 2016 from President Obama.
Ever since I read Between Loneliness and Solitude in the New Yorker I have been wondering when Donald Hall would die. It is a thought that I always felt guilty for having, waiting for someone to die, but in some ways, it felt like an act of mercy, and that it might relieve him from grieving the death of his second wife, Jane.
2. Vulture: Nothing Is Off the Table at Dinner With the Cast of Queer Eye
If Jonathan Van Ness isn’t already your favorite member of the Fab Five he will be after you read this interview! JVN runs this whole interview, but he shines during a discussion of the Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.
E. Alex Jung, the interviewer asked the Fab Five if they would do a makeover for him, most of the Fab Five, except for Tan (who didn’t say anything on the subject) were in favor of the makeover, to learn “if there’s a willingness” and “where that willingness is coming from” as Antoni put it. JVN was the only person who’s answer was a hard no and seemed to be the only person that had substantial knowledge of the case. As JVN explained, the baker, “is someone who has led a charge from the fanatical wing of the U.S. to disenfranchise gay people and further feed the flames of the right, who says we’re evil and shouldn’t have the right to marry.
Exactly what’s going on with Roe v. Wade will be the case for gay marriage if these same people continue to win Supreme Court decisions like they just won. So by legitimizing them, especially the person that has stoked such an intense case against marriage equality, that also presents such a big bone in the side of furthering marriage equality. Because even though this decision was close and it didn’t reverse the decision of the Ninth District and the Colorado board that decides the governing ethics that this baker reversed, that Supreme Court decision wasn’t super-duper clear because it didn’t reverse the initial [decision].”
It is also important to note that all of this was said before Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, and JVN’s argument is important now more than ever.
3. NPR: Justice Kennedy May Soon Find Himself Disappointed And His Legacy Undermined
Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court this week. Kennedy was often the swing vote on many cases including preserving the right to abortion and establishing gay rights. His retirement now leaves room for the reversal of many long-held precedents including Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion, women’s rights, and gay rights.
— Poets.org (@POETSorg) June 27, 2018
The late Lucille Clifton’s birthday was on June 27th, the same day Justice Kennedy announced his retirement. I learned of both through my twitter feed, and it was a striking combination. The first poem I saw by Clifton on my feed was won’t you celebrate with me, a poem of defiance and triumph in the face of adversity. The poem read as a hopeful beacon despite all of our rights that are now threatened.
And how should I look at my partner: in her eyes
Or at her body? Should I mirror the rhythm of her hips,
Or should I take the lead? I hear Jimi Hendrix
Was also unsure in dance despite being beautiful
And especially attuned. Most black people know this
About him. He understood the rhythm of a delta
Farmer on guitar in a juke joint circa 1933, as well
As the rhythm of your standard bohemian on guitar
In a New York apartment amid daydreams of jumping
Through windows, ballads of footwork, Monk orchestras,
Miles with strings.
I think one of the reasons I liked the internet so much this week is because of all of the amazing poets. Terrance Hayes began working on his new book, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, the day after the 2016 presidential election. All of the seventy sonnets share the same title. As Dan Chiasson writes “this is one of the deepest accounts I have read in poetry of what it feels like to have one’s body fetishized as an object but criminalized as a force.”
6. Net-a-porter: Break the Mold
Okay… so this is defs breaking the QPOC internet like A LOT. In an interview, Tessa Thompson made strong implications that she and Janelle Monae are dating. Naturally, all news outlets and everyone that knows how to read took the comments as confirmation. Thompson was not having it and tweeted, “Sometimes we cheer so loudly at someone speaking their truth, that we miss what they say. (Here’s looking at you media journalism). I didn’t say I was in a relationship. But I said lots of other things.”
IMHO they are totally dating and have been for a while. And I get it. I get why they don’t want to totally disclose the status/nature of their relationship. I get why it took Monae so long to come out. I get why it took her so long to find a label that fits. But I also understand why fans feel so entitled to their relationship.
Since the dawn of Janelle Monae, the core of her music has always played with gender and sexuality, and she has constantly hyper-aestheticised herself for her work. Due to the nature of her artists-as-artwork practice, demanding information about her feels less like an invasion of privacy, and more like asking for a project statement.
Monae and Thompson are also both acutely aware of their platforms, and what being more open about their sexualities means to many QPOCs, but they are also entitled to their privacy, and to only share what they are comfortable with. I do, however, think that if they confirmed the nature of their relationship (instead of just saying how close they are) many people would stop asking so many questions. Either way, Hollywood needs more QPOC couples.
7. The Cut: You Know He Got That Big Dick Energy
Speaking of Tessa Thompson, I am pretty sure she is dripping with Big Dick Energy or BDE. If you don’t know what BDE is, it is exactly what it sounds like. “BDE is a quiet confidence and ease with oneself that comes from knowing you have an enormous penis and you know what to do with it. It’s not cockiness, it’s not a power trip — it’s the opposite: a healthy, satisfied, low-key way you feel yourself.”
A lot of women have BDE including Cate Blanchett, Rihanna (who might have the most of anyone ever), Tiffany Haddish, Miranda Priestly, Carrie Fisher (RIP), defs Elizabeth Taylor, and a whole lot more.
8. Pitchfork: What the Rise of XXXTentacion Says About Being a Fan Today
Last week rapper XXXTentacion was fatally shot in Miami. The rapper had always been contentious due to his history of abuse and was charged with “battery of a pregnant woman, battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and witness-tampering, and was also on probation for armed robbery and assault.”
For many fans, XXXTentacion’s past, and journey to become a better person, is what made them love him so. XXXTentacion’s “writing was deeply diaristic, teeming with allusions to his rocky upbringing and his ongoing struggles with mental health. ‘You,’ ‘I,’ and ‘me’ were used emphatically and often, giving his songs a narrow and specific intimacy, like hot breath grazing an ear as whispers flow through a cupped hand.” By most accounts, technically he was a brilliant rapper, but “when we declare our favorite artists geniuses and never hold them accountable.”
9. The Bitter Southerner: He Could’ve Been a Colonel
The Ollie’s Trolly in DC is one of my favorite quick eats downtown. I am not exactly sure how I learned of it… I think I just happened to walk past it one day in a hangry rage and stopped. The restaurant always looked like it had an interesting history, but I never bothered to do any research. It turns out it used to be part of a chain of burger restaurants dreamed up by John Y. Brown, the man that turned KFC into a national chain.
10. Gravel: My Old College Friend
I am spending this summer where I spent my childhood summers and went to boarding school. It is an arts education camp and school in northern Michigan, and has been called “a monastery to the arts.” When I was at camp there, I was not allowed to have a phone, and friendships were forged by spending countless hours talking about nothing, with the ever-present hum of people practicing music.
I am not sure what to think of this piece. At times it is deeply relatable as the narrator recalls when his “old college friend’s ex-girlfriend—the one he left for the Swedish girl in Italy—[had] sent [him] a ‘friend’ request.” Other times the narrator considers “whether an affair with the woman in the red dress” at a conference he is at “might be possible” making me question how trustworthy he is, and if I should finish reading his story. The only thing I am convinced of, and the reason I picked this, is how much it reminds of the conversations I’m having with my high school friends.
*All images taken from reference articles*
Have a suggestion for next week? Email [email protected] with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”