Hello, Beloved Culture Warriors!
(Why isn't DICK more of a cult classic?)
We're paring things back a bit this week to bring you something paragraphic, yet breezy (yet also serious), plus a handful of the tastiest morsels the Internet has to offer this week. Think of it as an adult snack tray (TM Damespal mk eagle)!
How did the Manson Murders take Hollywood from this....
Dame Sophie has written before about Karina Longworth’s brilliant, Serial-style approach to The Manson Family murders, Charles Manson’s Hollywood, and now that the 12-episode arc has concluded, Dame Margaret is joining her (most ardently) to say the following: LISTEN TO IT. LISTEN TO IT NOW.
Ok, that’s not all. Come on. We are 100% taken by this story, especially the way Longworth has told it, and think everyone who’s interested in cultural history (which is to say, most of Dames Nation) will be, too. The story of how Sharon Tate’s life crossed with Charles Manson’s is full of weird coincidences, rage-inducing misogyny, unacknowledged privilege, drugs and heartbreak (You, like your Dames, will probably find yourself screaming “IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN POLANSKI!!!!” at some point).
At the risk of sounding like a loathesome Upworthy headline, unless you lived through the summer of 1969, you might not believe who pops up in this story - Classic Hollywood types like Doris Day and her son Terry Melcher, doomed Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, Candice Bergen, Anjelica Huston, legendary producer Robert Evans, the entire cadre of 1970s cinematic giants, and John Waters. (NB: Episode 9, where Longworth describes the murders at Cielo Drive in detail, is not for sensitive listeners and not essential to enjoying the overall narrative. Dame Sophie bailed out after the introduction and Dame Margaret did the same about halfway through. Neither regretted their choice.)
(Too many bad things had already happened to Sharon Tate, you know?)
As much as we enjoyed and appreciated the first season of Serial, we think Charles Manson’s Hollywood is even better: the mystery isn’t IF NOT ADNAN, WHODUNIT, it’s “Good God, how did this happen? What was it about the specific moment in the late 1960s that led to the Manson Family’s existence, let alone their escalating crime spree?" Because there’s no “Whodunit?” in play, and there’s already tons of reporting out there in a variety of media, Longworth can tease out her chosen themes in illuminating detail, and doesn’t risk becoming personally associated with the case or being seen as rendering a verdict outside of her fascinating questions about how it all came to pass and what its ripple effects on our culture were and are.
Perhaps savviest of all, Longworth grafts this measured and incremental approach to storytelling onto her own established brand as an expert on "the forgotten and/or hidden histories of Hollywood's first century", the accessible-academic style of celebrity gossip made so popular by Anne Helen Petersen at The Hairpin & BuzzFeed. The result is an irresistible blend of constant amateur sleuthing, emotionally insightful speculation, and thought-provoking forays into the deconstruction of celebrity image-- all applied to very famous true crime. Hook, line, sinker-- Longworth certainly ensnared your Dames.
Have you listened to Charles Manson's Hollywood? If so, what did you think? What aspect of the story can't you shake? We look forward to discussing it all with you on Twitter!
...to this? Karina Longworth can tell you.
Fashion! Turn to the Left!
More flounce to the ounce! "Battles, Batman, and Liberace: A Cultural History of Capes"-- the kind of article title that no one should resist, especially not when the content that follows it is this much fun.
Beautiful & illuminating: Afropunk’s piece on the rise of the Global Black Dandy. Author Shantrelle P. Lewis has a full write-up of the Dandy Lion Projecton her blog, including a link to a photo shoot for the project.
Voices of East Anglia, brought to our attention by Damespal Karen Corday, is full of vintage treasures of every kind. Dame Sophie’s favorites among their many features are their selections of videos like Ten Swinging Sixties Fashion Shows and Carnaby Street in Caracas.
Dame Margaret’s Essential Links
Even blurry, the beauty of this moment cannot be denied.More important things have happened this week than Mariah Carey gracefully overcoming her toddlers' vicious attempt to ruin her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star unveiling ceremony-- maybe. But nothing else brought Dame Margaret more joy than the vine of this battle royale. Hence. In addition to Mariah, Dame Margaret uncovered another #LadyHero this week: Bonnie Erickson, who designed both Miss Piggy and The Philly Phanatic. Hear all about her in La Mascotte, 99% Invisible's typically excellent take on the invention, role, and design of sports mascots. (It will help whet your palette for Christopher Guest’s new film, Mascots-- just purchased by Netflix!)Last week, Atlas Obscura was killing it. This week? It's Grantland. Whether it's Molly Lambert thoughtfully tracing the pernicious misogyny that's greeted Gwen Stefani, Nicki Minaj, and Jennifer Garner as their relationships dissolve or Mark Harris sharing insight (yet again) into how this current glut of superhero movies is effecting Hollywood, their coverage of common topics in pop culture is a cut above. Even more remarkable, however, are pieces like this deep dive into the world of lingerie football-- a space where female athletes desperate to compete at a professional level have found an opportunity they're hungry for, but at a cost they could hardly have anticipated. It's an incredible read and a great example of the kind of story that Grantland was specifically created to share. (H/T to Damespal Jonathanfor sending this one to Dame M. twice. It was worth the effort!!) The Hairpin, which has been doing some really great music writing lately, shared a list of five "songs for yearning in August" and-- whether or not yearning is on your agenda at the moment-- you should definitely click through and give them a listen. Then, maybe, you'll want to hear the entirety of Now Now's great albums Threads and perhaps also CHVRCHES's new single "Never Ending Circles" -- both of which are right in the sonic palette of 1989's synthier, more introspective songs like "Out of the Woods" and "Clean."FINALLY, even though probably none of us can afford tickets to go see Hamilton on Broadway (infinite row of sobbing emoji), we can all read Lin-Manuel Miranda saying incredibly nuanced and insightful things about diversity on Broadway, the challenge of producing original stories, and what Donald Trump has in common with our founding fathers, which is some small comfort.Dame Sophie’s Essential LinksThere’s a new collection out, re-translating & compiling all of the short stories of Clarice Lispector, an author I regret having never heard of before this week. Known to the readers of Brazil simply by her first name, Clarice was a prolific and somewhat surrealist writer, whose work -- encompassing both rigorous linguistic playfulness and off-putting yet fascinating subject matter -- may well resonate with fans of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels. I feel like Clarice is an author Parul Seghal already has lots of well-informed opinions about, and I really can’t think of any higher praise. White man pandering! “Men, for instance, have a tendency to perceive equality when women are still the minority in a group, and female dominance when they actually just pull even. That feeling is brought on by the loss of hegemony and the perception that your personal normalcy is being invaded. The hegemony was real, but I’m sad to say the normalcy never was.”Encountered tantalizingly briefly on Twitter this week: LADIES’ BITS, a periodical that ran for 16 issues in 1892 & covered some very Damesy topics: Fashion, Society, The Toilet, Literature, The Home, Fiction, Fancy Work, Etiquette, Art, Music & Drama, and is self-described as PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED. Are we reincarnated editors of this tragically short-lived publication?! Per the OP’s tweet, the only extant copies are in the British Library. If scans of even one issue are available, you’d better believe we are getting our hands on them.Rats, spiders, rabid raccoons, roaches, drug dealers, trash juice, daily puking, and the Sherlockian ability to size people up by the contents of their garbage and recycling bins: the lives of Philadelphia’s sanitation workers. You deserve ALL the pay raises & strictly-enforced workplace safety regulations. The combination of data visualization & reading nerdery is one of my personal catnips. GoodReads takes a peek behind the curtain to show how “The Girl on the Train” became so popular (h/t Damespal & Power Reader Kaitlyn!)Sesame Street’s HBO-PBS deal: what a fascinating time to be watching or otherwise involved in TV. (Vulture is not impressed. Jessica Winter’s piece in Slate is the best & most thoughtful one I’ve seen so far. I think we’re going to have to wait and see: will the higher number of episodes at the same high quality cancel out the structural problems of making kids without HBO wait 9 months for too see them? Or is this problem too problematic, period?)Have a great week!
We hope you are feeling yourself & your look as much as this cat: