News 01.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 01.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

This summer, I relapsed.

Not with alcohol, which I got sober from in 2014, but with Instagram, my social media drug of choice.

I had vowed to quit in April, and abstain at least until the fall, but really hoped, if I had the willpower, that I could remain off it forever.

I started using Instagram in 2013, to post about getting sober, and it was a love-hate relationship from the beginning. But it always felt like the benefits outweighed the costs. I made connections with people I’d have otherwise never met, many of whom became great friends and invaluable business colleagues, I found community and accountability when I so desperately needed it in the wobbly days of early sobriety, and I had a place to consistently share my work. I had built “a platform” in publishing-world speak — a sizable audience with blue-check verified accounts — which enabled me to switch careers from advertising to writing in 2016, and secure my first book deal in 2018.

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

News 01.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

All her life, she has been hearing about Pennsylvania. This is the place where people go to be free. Her mother, Chanel Sykes, went as a child, leaving Brooklyn on a bus for Pittsburgh to escape the influence of a crack-addicted parent. Now 13-year-old Dasani is going, but to a different place — a boarding school in rural Hershey that tries to rescue children from poverty.

“I want to attend the Milton Hershey school because I want to get a better education,” Dasani wrote in her application essay. She was eager to be “away from my family a little bit,” she added, “but at least I know I get to see them on the Holidays.”

None of Dasani’s seven siblings had ever left home. They had always stuck together, even when they were homeless, moving between New York City’s shelters with their parents, Chanel and her husband, Supreme. Then, in October 2014, they landed a rent-subsidized apartment on Staten Island’s North Shore, an area rattled by gang warfare and evictions. Three months later, on Jan. 26, 2015, Dasani was preparing to leave for the Hershey school.

“You know Sani leaving, right?” her mother told Baby Lee-Lee that morning. The toddler pushed her tiny nose into Dasani’s face, mumbling “No, no, no, no.” Then she poked Dasani in the eye with a piece of Bazooka bubble gum.

“She don’t understand,” Dasani whispered. “Yet.”

Even Dasani had yet to grasp what her departure would mean. She had spent her rocky childhood guarding the survival of her siblings, learning to change diapers before she was in kindergarten. She was her mother’s firstborn but acted more like a parent with her tight-knit flock of siblings, who spanned the ages of 2 to 12 — her “full blood” sister, Avianna, their four half siblings, Maya, Hada, Papa and Lee-Lee, and two stepsiblings, Khaliq and Nana.

“Family is everything,” Dasani told me. She did not know a world without them.

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

The Balmoral in Chestnut

Shop the Balmoral in Chestnut
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More than a year and a half ago, Daniel Craig and I met at the Museum of Modern Art to talk about his final James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” and bid farewell to that suave superspy he’d been playing since 2006.

When we sat down at our table in a private room at the Modern restaurant, Craig offered me the use of a hand-spray dispenser he was carrying. “That stuff is gold dust,” he said offhandedly. “It’s some crazy thing — people are selling it for like $25 a pop.”

As it turned out, that might have been the most significant part of our interview. We spent the next hour engaged in a polite conversation about the making of “No Time to Die” (which then was scheduled to open in a month), and how pleased he was both with the work he had done and to be finished with his duties.

We said goodbye and two days later, MGM and the producers of the Bond franchise announced they were delaying the release of “No Time to Die” until November, citing their “careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace.” (“This is purely an economic decision we understand, and not one based on growing fears over the coronavirus,” the trade publication Deadline wrote unconvincingly at the time.)

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

News 01.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On a summer day in 1931, a man was found wandering South State Street in Jackson, Mississippi. He appeared to be lost. He was white, with gray hair and a thin, angular face. His clothes were worn and rumpled, but on his feet were a pair of tan Borden low-quarter dress shoes, the kind that sold for more than ten dollars at S. P. McRae’s department store on West Capitol Street. He had shell-rimmed eyeglasses and a belt buckle with the letter L on it. In his pocket was a cheap watch and a single penny.

When police questioned him, the man seemed dazed. He was unable to supply his name, his address, or an explanation for why he was in Jackson. He was arrested for vagrancy. After a few days, he was placed in the custody of Dr. C. D. Mitchell, superintendent of the Mississippi State Hospital. Upon his arrival at the facility, the man, who was estimated to be about sixty, was entered into the patient ledger as “Mr. X.”

Who was he? Where had he come from? How did he wind up alone on a street in the Deep South, at the beginning of the Great Depression, without his memory? Months passed, then years. Mr. X remained at the hospital, and the mystery of his identity lingered. For reasons no one could discern, his past was beyond his reach.

Formerly known as the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum, in 1931 the hospital was a warren of overcrowded barracks so decrepit that patients kept getting injured by pieces of plaster that fell from crumbling ceilings. Worse yet, the hospital was a firetrap—its buildings were full of mattresses, linens, and other combustible material. One blaze after another destroyed parts of the facility, necessitating reconstruction.

In 1935, four years after Mr. X’s arrival, the institution moved to a brand-new campus about 15 miles outside Jackson. It was built on the site of a former penal farm and dubbed Whitfield, in honor of the governor—Henry L. Whitfield—who approved the construction. Over the course of several days, patients in Jackson were loaded onto buses in groups. They traveled along Highway 80 before turning onto a long gravel drive lined with young trees and freshly planted flower beds. Some 70 redbrick buildings with white columns were nestled on Whitfield’s green lawns and connected by paved walking paths. A visitor, taking in the manmade lake and the wide porches on the buildings, might have thought the place a summer camp or a university.

Over the previous century, patients in mental hospitals were often written off as subhuman and kept in barbaric conditions; by the 1940s, mental health care began shifting toward new treatment models, some with real potential to help people (psychiatric pharmacology), and some that could only do harm (lobotomy). Mr. X’s time in state care fell between these two eras, at an institution flush with the spirit in which it was built. Whitfield’s superintendent, Dr. Mitchell, designed the campus in line with the latest scientific understanding of psychiatry. The physical environs were intended to be peaceful and pleasing to the eye. Patients attended weekly dances and movie nights. On Sundays, patients and staff alike worshipped in the campus chapel. Orchards, fields, and a dairy farm provided Whitfield’s food. Able-bodied patients sewed overalls in the occupational therapy workshop; others milked cows or repaired fences. Mitchell believed in giving residents the opportunity to contribute to their community, because the dignity of honest work could be a salve to a troubled spirit. It also helped stretch the institution’s meager budget.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atavist Magazine

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News 01.10.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The best way to begin is with a gun. We don’t need to see it, but we need to know it’s there. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to convince an American that one is nearby. Start with murky fragments of a city skyline, lights piercing the falling night. Then a disembodied voice speaks as if the story has already begun, providing basic exposition: Dallas, October, Thursday night. A blue-eyed man, hair combed over the front of his head, says, “It’s as if I was meant to be here.” His head turns slightly, he purses his lips the way one does when they’re not quite finished speaking, but we move on. (All editors know that when an interview subject gives you a cliffhanger, you take it, but if he doesn’t, you can make one yourself by cutting a little tighter than you would have liked.) To generate an artificial pause, the film cuts to a red emergency light. The police, we now know, are involved. Already we’ve accounted for at least one gun. A new man in an orange prison jumpsuit appears. A gun and a crime, then. He tells us that he took a pistol and a shotgun, and we cut away from his face to an artist’s rendering of a revolver, spinning slightly in space. When we return to the imprisoned man, he continues narrating how he broke into a neighbor’s home and stole a car. Little has been given to us in the way of story, but much in the way of dread. One evening in Dallas, a man who is now an inmate was involved with the police and a firearm. The viewer is already racing ahead.

The opening of Errol Morris’s 1988 film The Thin Blue Line is a masterpiece, avant-garde in the old sense of the term. It blazed a trail that much of documentary filmmaking has since followed: the brooding repetitious strings of Philip Glass’s score, the unraveling of a crime, a miscarriage of justice, interviews interwoven with reenactments. Eventually we learn that Robert Wood, a Dallas police officer, was shot during a roadside vehicle stop, and the state investigation had resulted in the wrongful conviction of Randall Adams. Over the course of Morris’s own investigation, he not only uncovered the wrongful charge, but extracted a confession from the murderer. When the film was snubbed for an Oscar nomination, fellow filmmakers balked, particularly when it came out that the screening committee had not even finished watching the movie. (Michael Apted, director of the acclaimed series Upcalled it “one of the most outrageous things in the modern history of the Academy.”) Even better for a film’s legacy than being lauded in its time is being thought of as insufficiently rewarded.

Three decades later, a large segment of popular prestige nonfiction, not to mention the “trashier” fare, is effectively sketches after Morris. True crime has roots that extend beyond the advent of motion pictures, but Morris elevated it, just as Truman Capote once did with In Cold Blood. It wasn’t quite journalism, but Morris’s investigation did help free someone who had nearly been executed for a crime he did not commit.

Read the rest of this article at: the drift

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