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Home: The Toast

Hi team! I have missed you! Canada was wonderful and perfect (though also very humid, which I forget, because it is very dry where I am and you can toss a pair of wet jeans over a bannister and they’ll be ready to wear by morning.) Beyoncé was incredible. She was so gorgeous and brilliant and she was still BELTING IT OUT by the three hour mark while dancing in huge boots on a stage covered in water, while I took little breaks to rest my feet. She was also so filled with love for the fans, you could tell how much energy she got from the crowd, and we loved her, and it was good.

(I mostly ignored media while in Canada, so if any of these links got handled last week, consider them extra-special.)


Vox finished their EXHAUSTIVE internal review of how the terrible Holtzclaw piece happened, and I am linking to Slate’s coverage instead of SB Nation bc I can’t figure out how to quote from the pdf, sorry (you totally have to read the whole thing, it’s fascinating and infuriating):

In addition to flagging specific chain-of-command problems, the report criticizes SB Nation for its lack of diversity—according to the report, SB Nation’s editorial staff is 89 percent male and 87 percent white. The report avoids making the facile argument that got passed around in the days following the story’s publication: If newsrooms were more diverse, stories like this wouldn’t get published. This isn’t a simple case of oblivious white men with blind spots around race and gender pushing through an offensive story without realizing it was offensive. Indeed, many editors did realize it was offensive, and Bergeron, a black woman, voiced her concerns—she just wasn’t empowered to shut down the story. An increase in newsroom diversity wouldn’t have saved SB Nation from publishing “Who Was Daniel Holtzclaw?” unless more people had the authority to stop the digital presses.

The report indicates that SB Nation relied on a pair of women—Bergeron and senior content producer Sarah Kogod—to read stories on sensitive topics, and to flag any potentially offensive content. “That it is left to the newsroom’s two senior-most women, one of whom is of color, to be the people asked to identify issue-related editorial missteps in stories about sexual assault or race or LGBTQ issues is inexplicable and unacceptable,” reads the report. “They should not be seen as the gatekeepers of sensitivity.”

Vox Media’s report on SB Nation insists, powerfully, that it’s not OK for white men to shunt this category of work onto women and minorities. “It’s flatly unacceptable for any editor to assume that it’s not his or her job to care to the fullest extent about matters of ethics, integrity, and accuracy, which is essentially what caring about the construction and phrasing of sensitive stories boils down to,” write the report’s authors.


This is heartbreaking:

At least 700 migrants may have died at sea this past week in the busiest week of migrant crossings from Libya towards Italy this year, Medecins San Frontieres and the U.N. Refugee agency said on Sunday.

About 14,000 have been rescued since Monday amid calm seas, and there have been at least three confirmed instances of boats sinking. But the number of dead can only be estimated based on survivor testimony, which is still being collected.

“We will never know exact numbers,” Medecins San Frontieres said in a Tweet after estimating that 900 had died during the week. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said more than 700 had drowned.


the fuck:

Virginia authorities handcuffed a middle school student and charged him with larceny for “stealing” a milk carton from the school cafeteria earlier this year. The child has also been suspended from school.

In Prince William County, Virginia, the boy’s mother Shamise Turk says police handcuffed and charged her son Ryan with stealing a carton of milk from the school cafeteria.

The school normally charges students 65 cents per carton for milk. Ms. Turk says Ryan is allowed to drink it for free, because he is registered on the school’s lunch program.

Ms. Turk says one day Ryan went back to the lunch line to get his milk, and a Prince William County police officer approached him and accused him of stealing it.


I love Simone Biles:

Like most athletes, Biles is not illuminating on the subject of her own gifts. “I kind of blow my own mind,” she has said. “I wish I could crawl out of my skin and see it happen from a different perspective.” During her tumbling runs, Biles says, the only thing she sees is the colors of the ceiling and the floor, whizzing past in revolving blurs. (If you want to make yourself dizzy, look up “GoPro gymnastics” on YouTube.) When she vaults, she sees nothing at all. Some élite gymnasts count to themselves while flying through the air, to keep track of where they are, but Boorman says that Biles has no need for such calculation. She never gets lost.

Seeing Biles next to her competition at Pacific Rims, I felt as if Isaac Newton had written a different set of laws on her behalf. She flew higher, spun faster, and landed more firmly than anyone else. As I watched a group of gymnasts from New Zealand, whose every action looked pained, I was reminded of the physical awkwardness of being a teen-ager, but Biles moved from apparatus to apparatus like a shark in open water. In Everett, several people compared Biles to Michael Jordan, for her ability to escape gravity; and to Michael Phelps, for the perfect match of her body to her sport; and to Serena Williams, for her total dominance. I thought of Stephen Curry, who has made a habit of performing impossibly difficult athletic feats with no apparent effort.

Many gymnasts point out that Biles is at least as singular on the sidelines, where she is often seen joking with her teammates moments before stepping onto an apparatus. “When you look back at a lot of my Olympic teams, the majority of us were either crying or super intense,” Dominique Dawes, who competed on three Olympic teams, told me. After I spent time with Biles—I’ve rarely seen such excitement as when she hopped around her living room after her mother gave her permission to attend a G-Eazy concert—it became clear that her intense focus on the beam was more forced than the giggling. “She doesn’t particularly like to think about what she’s doing,” Boorman said.


SAVE JEANIE:

Jeanie is not the only person in this movie intent on bringing Ferris down; Mr. Rooney is on his own mission, too. But the humor in their respective narratives works on completely different levels. Mr. Rooney is a buffoon, an arrogant Keystone Cop of an authority figure who screws up over and over again. What’s funny about Jeanie’s scenes is her exasperation with the morons around her who have been completely snowed by Ferris’s long cons. Unlike Rooney, she’s no idiot. In fact, she and Ferris are probably the two smartest people in the movie.

The degree of injustice that Jeanie faces becomes most apparent when Jeanie calls the police to report that there’s an intruder (Mr. Rooney, although that doesn’t seem to register with her initially) in her home. After the cops inquire about Ferris’ well-being even though Jeanie is in the middle of an emergency distress call, she screams into the phone: “I am very cute, I am very alone, and I am very protective of my body. I do not want it violated or killed!” Again, Hughes may have been aiming for comedy here, but it’s a moment that also pretty starkly highlights the way that society often dismisses and discounts women. The victim-blaming is taken to new levels when Jeanie is the one who winds up at the police station, accused of filing a false report.


On Alanis Morissette’s Instagram:

I have never purchased (or tried to whip up by hand) an oil that Morissette recommends on her Instagram, but still, I find them deeply comforting. Staring into Morissette’s Instagram is like gazing out over the ocean or watching a prism cast rainbows on a wall: It is meditative, ruminant and a little numbing. The feed is a colorful font of Pinterest-ready, woo-woo, feel-good imagery: crystals organized in neat concentric circles, turquoise beads in ceramic bowls, a macro plate from Cafe Gratitude, spirituality books laid out on batik tapestry, wildflowers. The flow of images never feels too rushed or too planned — she will post three times in a single day, and then take a break for five weeks. There’s the sense that Morissette is currently doing exactly what feels right for her, and she transmits that intention into a kind of general social-media zen.


what is this salty discharge:

But of course, Elizabeth is more consumed by the show than most. She has memorized every word of the musical, read every word she can about Alexander Hamilton, and, naturally, she has asked us to start calling her “Eliza” after Hamilton’s wife Eliza Schuyler. She wears one of her three Hamilton T-shirts every single day that she’s allowed, and she regularly says things like “Thomas Jefferson was the worst,” though it has nothing at all to do with what we were talking about, and she will actually tear up a little thinking about poor John Laurens.


this was really interesting:

But Katz’s casting is by far the show’s boldest stroke. In a culture obsessed with picking apart the faux redemption arcs ginned up by Oprah specials and People magazine spreads, she built what turned out to be an ingenious business model: merging audiences’ appetite for ritual celebrity self-abasement with the PR interests of the celebrities themselves. “Dancing With the Stars allows celebrities to say, I understand I’ve been knocked off my perch,” said Tucker Carlson, who competed on Season 3. But, he added, “If you’re Paula Deen, you don’t have to answer questions about your racial views on this show. They are able to ensure that you may look slightly silly, but you’ll never really humiliate yourself. It’s a nerf environment.”

In Dancing With the Stars’ decade-plus on the air, Katz has converted a run-of-the-mill reality TV spectacle into something bigger: our culture’s foremost celebrity image rehabilitation machine, the easiest way for stars to rise from the ashes when they have something they want the public to forget. “I’m redefining myself right now,” Maples told me. “And this was my coming-out.”


<3 u Gord (I am returning to Canada for the final Tragically Hip show on August 20th, having bought tickets yesterday when the fan presale went live IT WAS A SHITSHOW, and am prepared to have all the feelings in the world, surrounded by other people having a lot of feelings. I will also eat poutine before the show with anyone who wants to join me):


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