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The Arts

Jun 30, 2017

What to read this weekend: recommendations from the bunker

Revolutionary RuPaul, Amazon's amazing, creepy new product, the gay men fleeing Chechnya, Grenfell and the death of local media and a classic interview with Stanley Kubrick.

Crikey long reads

Cassidy Knowlton, editor

Sasha Velour and Drag’s Permanent Revolution” by Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic

“Owing either to the new president or to record viewership numbers or to both, Season 9 of the cheeky crossdressing competition has been accompanied by a heap of publicity noting drag’s political implications (guilty!). The finale leaned into that hype, hard. Contestants walked out of an entrance in the shape of RuPaul’s lipsticked mouth over which the word ‘American’ was written. RuPaul was introduced as “our commander in chief” and arrived with dancing Secret Service agents in hotpants. Throughout the hour, he joked about the president: ‘Now take that to your special prosecutor and investigate it,’ he cackled at one point.”

Josh Taylor, journalist 

The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge” by Masha Gessen, The New Yorker

“‘They pushed my head down so I wouldn’t see where we were going,’ Ali, who is around thirty years old, told me. Soon, the car pulled up to an unmarked building. Ali saw two men he knew standing in front: ‘Their faces were all swollen from beatings. One of them said, “I told them everything.”‘”

Emily Watkins, media reporter

Grenfell reflects the accountability vacuum left by crumbling local press” by Emily Bell, The Guardian

“Among the many elements of failure which lead to the unacceptable and avoidable, the failure of accountability reporting on local communities is obvious to anyone who cares to scour the archives. The Grenfell Action Group blog carefully documented their repeated complaints to the council. Other reporting is scarce, and where it exists, hard to find.”

Charlie Lewis, journalist

How about a little game?” by Jeremy Bernstein, The New Yorker

“When Kubrick was twelve, his father taught him to play chess, and when he was thirteen, his father, who is something of a camera bug, presented him with his first camera. At the time, Kubrick had hopes of becoming a jazz drummer and was seriously studying the technique, but he soon decided that he wanted to be a photographer, and instead of doing his schoolwork he set out to teach himself to become one. By the time he left high school, he had sold Look two picture stories.”

Sally Whyte, deputy editor

‘Amazon’s New Echo Show Is Very Cool And A Little Creepy” by Matt Honan, BuzzFeed

“It has this wild new feature called Drop In. Drop In lets you give people permission to automatically connect with your device. Here’s how it works. Let’s say my father has activated Drop In for me on his Echo Show. All I have to do is say, “Alexa, drop in on Dad.” It then turns on the microphone and camera on my father’s device and starts broadcasting that to me. For the several seconds of the call, my father’s video screen would appear fogged over. But then there he’ll be. And to be clear: This happens even if he doesn’t answer. Unless he declines the call, audibly or by tapping on the screen, it goes through. It just starts…Honestly, I haven’t figured out what to think about this yet. But it’s here.”

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