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News 10.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 10.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the early nineteen-sixties, while on the staff of Vogue, Joan Didion was only half known to the magazine’s readers. Her name appeared intermittently. Her first signed piece, in June 1961, was a short essay on jealousy, which already showed certain features of her mature writing: an earnest consideration of the brittle contours of her own character, and a fine attention to language, including her own. She also wrote short, unattributed paragraphs—they cannot be called essays, articles, or pieces—for Vogue’s regular “People Are Talking About” column. She wrote about “Dr. No” and “The Manchurian Candidate”; about the atom bomb, Telstar, and the construction of the Guggenheim; about the budding careers of Willem de Kooning, Woody Allen, and Barbra Streisand; and about the death of Marilyn Monroe, whom she called “a profoundly moving young woman.” And she composed photo captions: those “signposts,” as Walter Benjamin put it, that had become essential to the printed magazine page in the twentieth century.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 10.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It has come to my attention that my apartment sucks. Objectively, that might be too harsh an assessment, but it certainly feels true right now. Don’t get me wrong: It has big, sunny windows; appliances that are functional, albeit old and ugly; and an amount of closet space that I would describe as “enough.” But the many things the apartment leaves to be desired—cheap fixtures, landlord-beige walls, and an ancient tile kitchen floor that never quite looks clean—have become unavoidably obvious to me as I’ve sat inside of it for the better part of this year.

The longer I sit, the more the flaws taunt me. The shallow kitchen sink, combined with the low slope of its faucet, makes it impossible to fill a pitcher straight from the tap, but most of my daily drinking water used to come from a machine at the office. The back wall of my kitchen, swathed in white paint, has borne the brunt of gurgling vats of spaghetti sauce and sputtering pans of fried-chicken grease, but I failed to notice the unscrubbable spots when I wasn’t standing in front of the stove preparing three meals a day, every day. The dusty ledges and shelves, unsightly window-unit air conditioners, and scuffed, jaundiced paint job weren’t so irritating when they weren’t my whole world.

In May, when the novelty of quarantine baking began to wear off—one can make only so many galettes out of frozen fruit originally bought for smoothies—my idle hands turned to the problems around me. Armed with my pathetic beginner’s tool kit, I started small. I raised and releveled a shelf that had been crooked for, by my estimation, at least two years. I ordered frames for prints that had been stashed in my closet and charged my long-dead drill battery to hang them. I scrubbed my tiny kitchen with Ajax from top to bottom, and in the process realized that some of my stove’s components weren’t supposed to be the color they’d been since I moved in. I sharpened my chef’s knife. I flipped and rotated my couch cushions. I ordered and assembled a new shoe rack, even though my feet don’t go very far these days.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

In her late-career novel “Hudson River Bracketed,” Edith Wharton memorialized the landscape just north of New York City—the “precipitate plunge of many-tinted forest, the great sweep of the Hudson, and the cliffs on its other shore.” In Wharton’s time, upstate was where Manhattan’s wealthy migrated seasonally, taking trains to enormous homes like Wyndcliffe, in Rhinebeck—the stolid mansion of Wharton’s aunt, Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, which is said to be the source of the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”—or the Mills family’s sixty-five-room Staatsburgh mansion, designed by McKim, Mead, and White and thought to be the inspiration for Bellomont in “The House of Mirth.” If they didn’t decamp to Beaux-Arts piles, they sought “the elaborate rusticity of an Adirondack camp,” as Wharton put it in that novel. For the gentry, leaving the city was practically compulsory, she wrote in “The Custom of the Country”: “In the early summer New York was the only place one could escape from New Yorkers.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 10.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I wrote to former Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance in early March, four months after he was pardoned by President Donald Trump and released from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. He had served six years of a 20-year sentence after being convicted of ordering the murders of two Afghan civilians near a small forward operating base outside Kandahar, one of the most violent and kinetic regions of the country.

Lorance, according to news accounts, was an inexperienced lieutenant who’d just taken over the platoon of an admired commander wounded in an IED attack. He had apparently wanted to impress his combat-hardened troops. They reported him hours after the shooting.

His case seemed different from those of Major Matthew Golsteyn and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, the two other service members accused of war crimes in whose cases the president had also intervened on November 15, 2019. For one thing, Lorance hadn’t committed the murders himself; he had ordered others to shoot. For another, unlike Gallagher and Golsteyn, he had acted, his lawyers claimed, because his platoon faced an imminent threat of attack.

The media still seemed to be litigating his court-martial seven years later, I wrote in my email. Fox News welcomed him home as a war hero. The New York Times editorial pages decried him as a war criminal. I knew that United American Patriots (UAP), the organization that had campaigned for his release, was arguing that Lorance’s rights had been violated at his trial — specifically, that the government had withheld evidence proving that the people he’d ordered his men to shoot were Taliban bomb-makers, not civilians. I hoped to find out where he stood with his own conscience. I asked if he’d be amenable to a phone conversation.

He wrote me back less than an hour later: “Hey brother” — the salutation he would use in almost all of his emails — “I have been advised not to speak with any media with liberal slants…. I only do interviews with conservative media [because] they don’t try to attack President Trump via my tragedy.”

We kept up our correspondence. He told me he’d recently moved to Florida because “it is paradise” and that he was applying to law school, because he wanted to help other unjustly accused people. After a while, I asked if he would reconsider speaking with me. He replied with one sentence: “Let me think about this and pray about this.”

Seven weeks later, on a May morning, he appeared on the screen of my laptop. He was wearing a blue blazer and an American flag pin, as he had done for his homecoming interview on Fox & Friends. He was courteous but impassive at first, the image of a professional soldier. He answered my questions in a soft drawl, without nervousness or inhibition. He’d been released from a maximum-security prison less than six months earlier, and now Florida was on coronavirus lockdown. Sitting in his barely furnished apartment, he seemed glad for an opportunity to socialize. Gradually, he relaxed into the conversation. He laughed a lot, often when he was speaking most revealingly: He’d never want his own child to join the military. You start to love your fellow service members more than you do your own family. He thought about suicide at Fort Leavenworth.

There was a catchphrase he used when he talked about moments that had baffled, astonished, or wounded him: “What the hell?” he would say. In the long story he told me, there were many such moments.

Read the rest of this article at: The California Sunday Magazine

News 10.09.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Someday, with luck, Britney Spears will write a “good, mysterious book.” At least, that’s what she said in the closing moments of Britney: For the Record, a 2008 MTV special that capped off a few years of highly publicized turmoils for Spears: paparazzi skirmishes, child-custody battles, lethargic performances, an involuntary psychiatric visit, and one infamous head shaving. The documentary captured the singer’s attempt to move on from her scandals, but at the end of its hour-long running time, an interviewer noted that Spears had still discussed her problems in only vague terms. With a wistful smile and tilt of her head, Spears assured viewers that she’d eventually put all her answers in writing.

People who track down For the Record today—despite its absence from streaming services, official retailers, and even most bootleg sites—may be searching for clues to a mystery that still surrounds one of the world’s most famous people. In January 2008, the then-26-year-old Spears was committed to a hospital psychiatric ward against her will, and her father, Jamie, obtained temporary legal control of her affairs. She could no longer make her own appointments, go for impromptu drives, or freely use the millions of dollars she had earned since coming into superstardom at age 16. Spears initially tried to contest the arrangement—known as a conservatorship—in court, but a judge had determined her mentally unfit to choose her own attorney. By the time of For the Record’s November broadcast, the conservatorship, overseen by Jamie and a lawyer named Andrew Wallet, had become permanent. Spears had settled into what she called a “boring” new life of constant monitoring by doctors and lawyers. “Even when you go to jail, you know there’s the time when you’re gonna get out,” she said in the documentary. “But in this situation, it’s never ending.”

It was a shockingly quiet end to what had been a raucous story. Throughout her rise, Spears presented herself as the archetypal young girl rebelling into womanhood: a 16-year-old Catholic student shimmying provocatively in her school halls, a 19-year-old party animal complaining of being so oh-oh-overprotected, a newly married 22-year-old singing that she didn’t need anyone’s permission to make her own decisions. The way her performances jibed with her at-times-wild personal life proved irresistible to the early 2000s’ unchecked gossip media, which magnified her every sartorial, romantic, or parenting snafu. Then, in 2008, Spears—a twice-married mother of two—became someone who really did need permission to make any significant decisions. Her next album, released later in 2008, was called Circus, but Spears’s publicity circus had definitively ended.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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