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News 09.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 09.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 09.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 09.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Last January, shortly before the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Sotheby’s in New York put together what was supposed to be a modest auction of a dead interior decorator’s things. Mario Buatta rose up in the 1980s as “the Prince of Chintz,” having decked out the homes of some of America’s wealthiest families (Doubledays, New-houses, but also celebrities like Mariah Carey) in the manically floral, overstuffed country-house style of the early nineteenth-century English Regency. If the Regency had steroids and disco, it might have looked more like Buatta’s version of it. At any rate, when he died, in 2018, he left no will, only five storage units and two homes stacked to the ceilings with the types of finds one might imagine belonged to a man who slept on a Chinese four-poster bed crowned by an Ottoman-style dome near columns carved to look like windswept palm trees.

The auction was expected to attract a small crowd of insiders: establishment interior designers, ancient gentry with subscriptions to Town & Country—essentially, the sorts of people who might remember Buatta’s era of more-is-more excess first-hand. Instead, the auction turned into a two-day international selling frenzy. There were feverish bidding wars for just about every item: a dolphin-shaped Venetian grotto stand, a painted tole shell-form purdonium on wheels. An imperfect porcelain tureen shaped like a bunch of asparagus, estimated at between $2,000 and $3,000, went for $25,000 (all figures US).

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

News 09.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Under the sharp light of Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport, the 19-year-old was easy to find. He stood alone where Nancy Tao Chen Ying had instructed.

Nancy was at her office when she received the message. It was a hot and humid Friday afternoon in July 2019, and a friend in Hong Kong asked if she could get to the airport: A young anti-government protester was fleeing the semiautonomous Chinese territory; could she pick him up once he landed? Nancy had never done this before, but when she agreed, the protester sent her an encrypted message with his flight details, and she left work to meet him.

Slightly less than five feet tall and 26 years old, Nancy wore her long dark hair side swept, the layers framing her face. She dressed well, often in pastels, changing styles like moods. As Nancy approached him, the boy seemed unsettled. Tall and slim, he loomed over her, clutching a small backpack. He told her that while he had brought some clothes, he had little money. “It’s OK,” Nancy told him, leading him to the metro. “Let’s just go to Taipei first.”

Because they were introduced through mutual friends, Nancy assumed she was the only person in Taiwan the Hong Konger could trust, the only person in Taiwan he probably even knew, but the nearly hourlong metro ride downtown was quiet. The boy didn’t strike up a conversation and was indifferent to Nancy’s questions.

“What should I call you?” she asked.

“Call me —.”

“What happened to you in Hong Kong?”

“The police came to arrest me and searched my house.”

Nancy didn’t push for more details; she was familiar with the contours of his story. There was proof that he attended an anti-government protest — something incriminating. He had either posted bail or not been charged yet, and within 48 hours, he decided to flee. Looking to blend in with other travelers, he took little with him. Dozens upon dozens of versions of the same story had been playing out in Taiwan for the last few weeks.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

The Balmoral in Chestnut

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Michael Stipe’s studio, on the Lower East Side, is hidden behind a sliding metal security door. From the street, it looks abandoned. Nearly two years ago, I arranged to meet him there, and, when I rang the doorbell on the intercom, I was startled to hear Stipe’s voice coming through its tinny speaker—sonorous as ever, recognizably deep and vulnerable, strangely similar to the way it sounds through a megaphone on the R.E.M. song “Orange Crush,” from 1989. Stipe buzzed me in, offered me some water, and showed me around a space that evoked some R.E.M. album art come to life. Atop shelves and tables, a garden gnome, a soda bottle, and a photo of Neil Armstrong were arranged near a cardboard clock radio, a copy of Genet’s “Our Lady of the Flowers,” and Andy Warhol’s Polaroid camera. Instantly, I thought of Stipe’s lyrical world: a jumble of confessions, cultural references, and surprising juxtapositions—“I can’t look it in the eyes,” he sang, in 1996, “Seconal, Spanish fly, absinthe, kerosene”—which could be simultaneously personal, random, Zeitgeisty, and transcendent.

From 1980 through 2011, when R.E.M. amicably suspended operations, Stipe was both its lead singer and its de-facto artistic director. Working with designers, photographers, and illustrators, he gave the band’s albums a distinctive, composite vibe, part scrapbook, part photo diary, part military plan of operations. Stipe himself seemed to embody many different sensibilities. His voice was deep, brawny, and plaintive; his look delicate but unbending and intense. He had an accent—Texas by way of Georgia and the West Village—that seemed to encompass a few different versions of America. He could be goofy (“Stand”), literary (“E-Bow the Letter”), elusive (“Gardening at Night”), coy (“Tongue”), and direct (“Nightswimming”). In songs like “Fall on Me” and “Losing My Religion,” he dramatized the struggle to express feelings that have no name.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 09.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

My little son has a gang he roots for. All boys, dudes everywhere – they’re his gang. I figured this out, recently, when we sat down to watch the Grand National. He’d picked a horse in the family sweepstake and his choice was out in front for most of the race. When it fell back, out of contention, my son paled a bit. Possibly he’d already spent the sweepstake winnings in his head (on stickers, sweets, toy balls) but he took the disappointment quite well, I thought, for a four-year-old. The race was won in the end by a female jockey. It was the only time a woman had ever finished first in a Grand National, the commentators shouted. And all at once my son did cry, real fat gushers, instant snot moustache, the works. Now this was too much, if a girl had gone and beaten all the boys.

Where does it come from, I wondered, this kneejerk allegiance that distances little boys from little girls and makes an us-v-them of gender distinctions, right from the get-go? Where does it lead, as those boys become men? These are questions I’ve been wondering about a lot as my son gets older. He’s a friendly, curious kid who adores his older sister but his sense of himself, just now, seems to come across most clearly when he emphasises the contrasts between them. Along with millions of other little boys he will be coming of age during a richly complicated time for young men, and I want to help him get this right.

The slow turbulence of the #MeToo movement, with all its re-evaluations and reckonings since Harvey Weinstein was brought to account for his crimes in 2017, then the sharp and terrible shock of Sarah Everard’s murder in the spring – these events have helped adjust the way a lot of us price and make room for masculinity’s expression in society. There seems to be an urge to do things differently, to rear young men without the same certainties and biases that previously we absorbed by rote. Mine’s not the first generation of parents to be thinking about all this, and fretfully. In the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the 00s, there were many mothers and some fathers who looked at each other and asked: what ought we be doing differently with boys? Perhaps what’s new is the urgency, a sense of enough-being-enough. Perhaps what’s new is that men, in greater numbers, are acknowledging the need for a rethink. Parents and those caring for sons have been wondering (and wondering, and wondering again): if change is to begin with us, how should a boy be raised now?

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 09.08.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When bobby mcilvaine died on September 11, 2001, his desk at home was a study in plate tectonics, coated in shifting piles of leather-bound diaries and yellow legal pads. He’d kept the diaries since he was a teenager, and they were filled with the usual diary things—longings, observations, frustrations—while the legal pads were marbled with more variety: aphoristic musings, quotes that spoke to him, stabs at fiction.

The yellow pads appeared to have the earnest beginnings of two different novels. But the diaries told a different kind of story. To the outside world, Bobby, 26, was a charmer, a striver, a furnace of ambition. But inside, the guy was a sage and a sap—philosophical about disappointments, melancholy when the weather changed, moony over girlfriends.

Less than a week after his death, Bobby’s father had to contend with that pitiless still life of a desk. And so he began distributing the yellow legal pads, the perfect-bound diaries: to Bobby’s friends; to Bobby’s girlfriend, Jen, to whom he was about to propose. Maybe, he told them, there was material in there that they could use in their eulogies.

One object in that pile glowed with more meaning than all the others: Bobby’s very last diary. Jen took one look and quickly realized that her name was all over it. Could she keep it?

Bobby’s father didn’t think. He simply said yes. It was a reflex that he almost instantly came to regret. “This was a decision we were supposed to make together,” his wife, Helen, told him. Here was an opportunity to savor Bobby’s company one last time, to hear his voice, likely saying something new. In that sense, the diary wasn’t like a recovered photograph. It raised the prospect, however brief, of literary resurrection. How, Helen fumed, could her husband not want to know Bobby’s final thoughts—ones he may have scribbled as recently as the evening of September 10? And how could he not share her impulse to take every last molecule of what was Bobby’s and reconstruct him?

“One missing piece,” she told me recently, “was like not having an arm.”

Over and over, she asked Jen to see that final diary. Helen had plenty of chances to bring it up, because Jen lived with the McIlvaines for a time after September 11, unable to tolerate the emptiness of her own apartment. Helen was careful to explain that she didn’t need the object itself. All she asked was that Jen selectively photocopy it.

Jen would say she’d consider it. Then nothing would happen. Helen began to plead. I just want the words, she’d say. If Bobby’s describing a tree, just give me the description of the tree. Jen demurred.

The requests escalated, as did the rebuffs. They were having an argument now. Helen, Jen pointed out, already had Bobby’s other belongings, other diaries, the legal pads.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.