Salutations, Beloved Stalwarts of Dames Nation!
This week, the Internet Thing we most want to signal-boost is Gene Demby’s terrific piece How Black Reporters Report on Black Death. If you’ve already read it, then you know what we’re going to say: it’s beautifully reported-- the kind of in-depth reflection on a community of practice that there’s rarely enough room in journalism for, because the members of that community are out there reporting the most important developing news story in America. There are real costs to reporters working the race-and-police-brutality beat, especially when those reporters are members of the community most frequently plagued by those crimes. We joke frequently about #ServiceJournalism, but we’re sincere about it today. Read this piece. You will be so glad that you did.
And now for a brief interlude of Editorial Transparency, because we are nothing if not transparent.
We debated a bit about leading with this piece: on the one hand, it’s POWERFUL AS SHIT, exquisitely done, and it sheds light on a dynamic that hasn’t yet been seriously examined, all absolutely qualities that typically merit a headlining spot in the newsletter.
But we worried, too. Was it like…glib to lead with a serious piece about the challenges of covering black death while being black when we’re both Nice White Ladies who work in a field heavily populated with Nice White Ladies? Was it performative ally-ship, more about showing how great WE are for caring about the piece than about showing how great the piece itself was? Could we touch on this and then subsequently highlight the plight of a Canadian comic writer and his dog getting trapped in a wet skate bowl or would that give our readers tonal whiplash?
But then Dame Sophie thought of how what Gene is talking about relates to Zeynep Tufekci’s open letter to Facebook, about how severely we limit our worlds when the only metric we have for engaging with something is to LIKE it (related: her piece last year on the real, political consequences of algorithms on what you see in your Facebook feed vs. your Twitter feed). In the absence of a mechanism to tell Facebook “I think this is important”, we are missing out on things that aren’t likable, but are nonetheless critical to our development as humans.
And look, we here, your Dames -- we want you to like us all the time. (Surprise!) We are two ladies who love only the ACT of liking & sharing things more than we like BEING liked. But if we are limiting ourselves to JUST that, if we are saying that we can EITHER talk about substantive, emotional pieces like Gene’s OR a thinkpiece on the greatness of Carly Rae Jepson, 21st Century mystic, then like… WE WOULD BE LETTING THE MAN WIN. False dichotomies are gaaaaarbage, so we are chucking that notion RIGHT OUT and hope you’ll read & signal-boost the hell out of Gene & Zeynep’s work, all while listening to Janelle Monae’s soul-stirring, drumline-rich protest song “Hell You Talmbout”.
Obviously, Janelle has to defy MORE labels than your Dames do.
But she inspires the crap out of us as she does so.
Some Favorite Links of Issues Past
We’re getting close to the one-year anniversary of this newsletter, and we’re throwing around some fun ideas for something special to celebrate. Going back over old issues of this newsletter, we were reminded of some true internet gems that we think are worth re-sharing. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Cameron Esposito on You Made It Weird: “where she speaks about her journey from dating the star quarterback of her conservative Catholic high school to being a rising stand-up engaged to a woman with the charmingly apt last name of ‘Butcher’.” From: Mullets and poptimists and paper dolls, oh my!
Especially relevant for fans of Appointment Television, Dame Margaret’s podcast with Kathryn VanArendonk & Andrew Cunningham: Kathryn’s “so-good-it'll-make-you-slap-your-forehead-in-a-revelatory-fashion piece on how Gilmore Girls "sticks out like Emily Gilmore at Luke's Diner" in today's Serious Man Drama era of quality television.” From: Puppies! Pumpkins! Pig Pen! And More! (If you like this, you should also check out Kathryn's premiere appearance on All Things Considered this week!)
In that same issue, we shared Dogs Impersonating Biden, an essential Tumblr of our time.
Dame Sophie’s Top 5 du Semaine
Musical Excellence 4-in-1:
Dame S is not a spiritual person, but she is super-fascinated by both ecstatic pop music and female mysticism, so Jia Tolentino’s Notes on 21st-Century Mystic Carly Rae Jepsen is at the center of an especially satisfying Venn diagram.
Taylor Swift super-fan Ryan Adams has released snippets of the 11 songs he's recorded for his 1989 covers album. We really love them, but aren't hearing as much of the Smiths influence as he's led us to expect via his mid-recording Instagrams. It's FINE, though, because the Springsteenian/Beck-circa-Sea Change sound he brings to these songs is A+. Just...bring that Johnny Marr sound up in the mix, won't you, dear sound engineer?
Guess the Modern Architectural Masterpiece as its design comes together in this jazzy little animated tour of iconic 20th century houses.
Banksy’s got some art on display at Dismaland, a dystopian theme park in an otherwise-picturesque English seaside town. PS we still totally believe that Banksy is a woman-led collective.
The first teaser trailer for Carol -- a 50s-era romantic drama starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara & based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith -- is ravishing, with hints of a psychological thriller, maybe? We are bewitched.
HEADCANON ALERT for Code Name Verity: Julie & Maddie, staying up nights reading aloud the drily funny yet dead serious WWII-era British Special Operations Excutive Guide on How to Hide Well
As devoted 19th century lay-scholars, we have both pre-registered for Sarah Mesle and Sarah Blackwood's (sadly, imaginary) Bonnet Literature course, which we know will be the antidote to the Franzenfreude that ails us.
Dame Margaret’s Top 5 du Semaine
If your social network social groups are anything at all like those possessed by your Dames, then you surely saw the line “Your personal style can best be described as ‘librarian up to no good’’” at least 18 times before the end of the day on Tuesday. But did you read the whole of Bridey Heing’s extremely funny piece “How To Tell If You're In an Edward Gorey Book”? Because practically all the lines are that great. So, really, you owe it to yourself to click through right now.
Dame Margaret is a highly conformed, appropriately socially constrained person so of course she finds the idea of communal living fascinating. Ergo this long read from The New York Times on one the fate of one of America’s oldest LBGTQA+ communes in our modern, gay-friendly society was TOTAL clickbait for her. Come for a chance to read about “the Short Mountain Refinishing School for the Butch Arts,” stay for the tale of Neal Appelbaum, the superhumanly dedicated civil servant/anarchist who saved the commune and got married in his grandmother’s antique pearl necklace.
Then let’s take a brief detour to Toronto, where noted web comic creator Ryan North spent 38 minutes livetweeting his experience of being stuck in a rain-soaked skate bowl with his beloved dog, Noam Chompsky because like…. for what do we exist but to laugh at our neighbors and make sport for them in our turn, you know?
You know what Dame Margaret also loves? OBSCURE SUPERSTITIONS!! So this Atlas Obscura piece on the elaborate pre-launch traditions of various space programs and their origins practically felt as though it were written for her.
And finally! A passel of fan culture goodies for all of you:
Which will inevitably lead to you contemplating just how amazing it would be if Hayley Atwell got her wish and become the first female Doctor Who.
And then you can join Your Dames on a brief, comic detour into recalling just how terrible Albus Dumbledore really was.
The secret to Peggy Carter's great aim: Imagining she's shooting at Albus Dumbledore???
This Week In We Want To Go To There: Grand Illumination Night
What’s that? You wish there were a real-life small-town celebration that incorporated the 19th century Second Great Awakening religious traditions of a small town on Martha’s Vineyard with idiosyncratically-painted gingerbread Victorian cottages and beautiful paper lanterns, a la Tangled? YOU ARE IN LUCK, because cherished Damespal Amy attended Grand Illumination Night at the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association in Oak Bluffs, MA this week and sent us photos!
May you float into next week on a tide of beautifully illuminated lantern-feelings, Dames Nation.
PS: big heart-eyes thanks to Jen A. Miller (practically Dame Sophie’s neighbor!) & Leila Cohan-Miccio for their recent shout-outs to TBD in their recent newsletters. (Uptalk: such a great newsletter title!) Check ‘em out!
P.P.S. If somehow you missed reading that great Stephen Colbert profile that literally everyone read on Monday, DON'T DO THAT! GO READ IT! It's just as great as everyone said! It will make you cry, in the best, most life-affirming way!
It will make you feel like either THIS:
depending on your stance in re: cats v. dogs.