Before we get started, a content warning: we talk about the wholly unacceptable verdict in the case seeking some measure of justice for Philando Castile in the segment below. If that’s something you need to scroll past for your own well-being, go right ahead. Take care of you. <3
As we were putting this issue to bed, news broke that the police officer who shot unarmed black motorist Philando Castile last summer in Minnesota was found not guilty on all charges.
We are so fucking sick of being simultaneously shocked and unsurprised by our country’s staunch refusal to take police violence against black Americans seriously.
So before we get to the usual consciously grand, slightly cheeky greeting we use to open each week’s newsletter, we’re going to stay on the serious side for a minute.
It’s a lot to process and our voices should not be central to the Black Lives Matter conversation. We know some more excellent work reflecting on this verdict is forthcoming, but for now, we’re going to reach back into our archives to re-publish links to some work by black authors we admire, much of which we shared when Mr. Castile was first killed.
Put Mr. Castile’s death in context with this piece from NPR analyzing the many times he was stopped and ticketed for minor driving offenses, and the many hours he invested in fighting those fines. As local public defender Eric Sandvick commented, "What Mr. Castile symbolizes for a lot of us working in public defense is that driving offenses are typically just crimes of poverty." The system we have is not fair or objective. It assumes criminality when it perceives poverty and non-whiteness, and especially blackness.
Washington-based writer Ijeoma Oluo put together a detailed list of actions you can take to advance police reform in your hometown, a list thoughtfully elaborated upon by Nicole Silverberg.
At Campaign Zero (mentioned by Nicole Silverberg), you can educate yourself about the step-by-step platform introduced by Black Lives Matter to end police violence, and see which bills advancing this cause at a municipal, state, and federal level are currently in consideration, where your representatives stand on these issues, and how to reach them for comment. Look this up. Reach out. A lot of the important work on police reform happens at the city and state level, the levels of government with lowest voter turnout and engagement. Even a few voices can have a major impact.
Cate Young, a Bitch Media Writing Fellow & culture critic, wrote a VERY essential thread on how news isn’t neutral, even when journalists are striving to adhere to ethical best practices (and especially when news is breaking).
Our fellow well-intended white friends can use the many resources compiled in the Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism. Very handy for helping lay the table for difficult conversations with friends & family.
As suggested by Jasmine Guillory, if you want to do something good _right effing now_ and have a few dollars to spend, we’d also like to recommend making donations to organizations like your local food bank, the National Bail Fund, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and local charitable organizations that support our Black friends & neighbors.
There is much, much more we could share, but we're going to leave it here. If you want more suggestions, or have more pieces that you have found helpful in processing these, please come let us know on Twitter. And now: on with our previously scheduled newsletter.
The Black Panther Trailer, Though
Oops, we looked at this gif too long and now we’ve actually incinerated from lust, help.
Y’ A L L. Y’ A L L L L L L L L L L L L. THIS TRAILER, THO!? As BIG fans of Ryan Coogler’s work, we have been excited about this movie for a while. News that a zillion black actors of note (including our husband, Michael B. Jordan) would be featured only increased our excitement. And yet SOMEHOW this trailer managed to exceed our sky-high expectations. Michael B. Jordan’s Evil The Weekend (™ Christina Grace) hair! The sheer preponderance of substantial female characters, apparent even from this 2-minute trailer!! THE FIGHT SCENES!!! THE DORA MILAJE!!!! The excellent use of Run the Jewels!!!!!! The trailer’s ability to tell us just enough about the movie’s setup to intrigue us, but not so much that we feel like we’ve watched the movie already (AHEM, overlong and aggressively uninspired trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming). Needless to say, it’s all left us DYING for it to be February already.
Dame Margaret’s Survivalist Bunker of Links
Carol: a Style Icon for both every day *and* Prepper scenarios
I have spent this week being “responsible” which for me constitutes reading all the issues of OTHER people’s great newsletters I have let pile up in my inbox. WHICH MEANS I’m going to be banging the drum for some of our old favorites.
First up! Did you realize that longtime #Damesfav Lisa Schmeiser had restarted her great, incisive newsletter “So What, Who Cares?” in January, after a 2-year hiatus? Because SHE DID and the results have been terrific. Two of my favorite recent issues address (1) the accessibility challenges overlooked in tech’s headlong rush towards voice-activated devices, and how a quote from Harry Potter helps illuminate them and (2) the rise and (possible) fall of J. Crew-- an issue that this Dame is following with close attention, given her profound attachment to their Jackie Cardigan That Was. If you don’t already, SUBSCRIBE, so that Lisa can make you feel 87 times smarter and ALSO so you can get stories like the following, from Racked, on doomsday preppers’s somewhat unexpected fixation on clothing and fashion.
Second up, I went on a DELIGHTFUL binge through former guest editor and perpetual #Damesbait-creator Julia Carpenter’s thrice-weekly newsletter “A Woman to Know” which provides-- with both brevity and wit-- exactly what’s promised on the tin: a quick introduction to a woman from history you ought to know. Choices can range from Buffalo Calf Road Woman (who knocked General Custer from his horse at the Battle of Little Big Horn, giving him the injuries which ultimately killed him) to Hedda Hopper (the reigning queen of Hollywood’s gossip press from 1938-1960). Julia’s eye for a telling detail is great, and so are her recommendations for further reading. From this binge, I particularly enjoyed this piece from People Magazine on the legacy of Hedda Hopper and her chief rival, Louella Parsons, this one from The New York Times on Hopper’s flamboyant style (complete with a delightful slideshow!), and this profile on professional jilt Mary Landon Baker, who received 65 marriage proposals before her death at 61, but never once married.
On a similar note, are you aware of Beyond Curie, a design project dedicated to creating great posters commemorating women in STEM fields from throughout history? The goal of the project is excellent, the resulting posters are breathtaking, and this interview with Amanda Phingbodhipakkiy, the neuroscientist/graphic designer behind the project, is a fun, informative read.
I have always said that my worst quality as a librarian is my appetite for almost certainly apocryphal stories, so I cannot say that I was entirely surprised to learn that my favorite “historical” cocktail’s legendary origin was entirely made-up. But, given my affection for con men, I almost think I like this outcome BETTER than the original. And The Seelbach is an utter delight to drink however it came to be-- fix yourself one as a belated celebration of National Bourbon Day, which occurred just this past Wednesday.
Lately, I’ve been feeling very gif-of-Tyra Banks-yelling-“I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!”-at-Tiffany Richardson about Miley Cyrus. While she appropriated left and right in 2013, plastering herself with hip-hop and its cultural signifiers as a convenient way to communicate to the white mainstream that she was “all grown up,” I naively hoped that she was trying to express sincere admiration for the art form, but fucking up because she was young and, as a result, a bit dumb about the larger framework that made her behavior exploitative. I didn’t speak out in her defense, because all the critiques of her actions were completely fair. But I did hold out hope that she’d come out the other side wiser and maybe grow into a truly interesting artist. SO, I was pretty disappointed when instead she tore a page out of the Darth Becky playbook, began decrying rap’s “misogyny,” and retreated instead into what Amanda Petrusich aptly describes as “creepy wholesomeness” in a piece that perfectly crystallizes my own inchoate disappointment with Cyrus’s trajectory. Likewise, I took some comfort in Sarah Miller’s hilarious analysis of the bad video for Cyrus’s bad new single, “Malibu.”
LUCKILY, I don’t need Miley to grow into a more interesting artist when there are plenty of ladies of color already out there making music that actually deserves my time and attention! Take, for example. Monica Martin, the lead singer of the currently-on-hiatus band Phox, whose new project with Brooklyn-based composer and pianist Violents resulted in both a transcendently lovely performance for NPR Music’s Tiny Desk series and an enchanting record.
And then there’s also Lorde, whose secret Instagram account devoted to rating onion rings is here to prove that not ALL white pop stars are ALWAYS terrible. Please, go take a look at the screenshots from the now deleted account, to see the delightful level of detail they featured. It’s really very charming.
And finally, could you use a good laugh-so-hard-that-you-almost-cry moment? Because, if yes, let me recommend this video ofa local news reporter riding the Tower of Terror for the first time on live TV. He may have been inadequately informed about just what to expect from the ride and his reaction is just… I have watched the video at least 15 times now and it has not gotten old yet.
Dame Sophie’s Musical Smorgasbord
It’s all tunes, all the time, this week.
Say what you will about this gloomy cuss, he writes one helluva come-on.
Time-Sensitive Important GenX Ranked List Alert: Like many members of Generation X, I lurrrrve The Smiths. I had a truly horrible frenemy in middle school whose one lasting positive contribution to my life was dubbing a copy of Strangeways, Here We Come for me in 1987, and let me tell you, that album is still pure (pale, gloomy Mancunian) fire. I’m not a completist, by any means, but their Miserably Erudite & Often Witty Lyrics + Chiming Guitars = Faintly Weepy Yet Snickery Weedy Intellectual Dance Party formula has never failed to cheer me up, so ooooobviously I am submitting a ballot in Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the Smiths poll. You can pick up to 25 songs, and since they only recorded 70 original songs (how is that possible?), I am challenging myself to choose just 15. I live on the edge, friends. Anyway! The poll deadline is tonight (June 16), so get to submitting your votes, if this is a thing you have a stake in!
Summer Jams! Last week on Still Processing, Wesley & Jenna put out a call to listeners for their for predictions for the Song of Summer 2017, and Jenna very kindly put together a Summer Jam playlist on Spotify. It’s great, though the absences of MUNA’s “I Know a Place” and Imagine Dragons’ “Believer” may prompt me to send in a pleading email for last-minute additions. (BTW, have you noticed that the cadence of the pre-choruses on “Believer” is a dead ringer for Daveed Diggs’ super-fast “I’m in the cabinet. I am complicit in / Watching him grabbin’ at power and kiss it / If Washington isn’t gon’ listen / To disciplined dissidents, this is the difference: / This kid is out!” on “Washington On Your Side”? Honestly, I don’t even know if I like “Believer”, but since I hear it about 5 times a day on the radio, I have now surrendered to the inevitability of its weird, Get Aggressively Pumped & Shout Along In The Car charms.) What's your summer jam this year? Or your cozy winter jam, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere? Doooo let me know over on ye olde Twitter!
One of my early picks for album of the summer is St. Etienne’s almost absurdly refreshing new album, Home Counties. It’s a concept album about the idyllic-seeming counties surrounding London, which might sound like [snore emoji], GOD, Sophie, could you be more of a fancypants brunch eater? But: 1) Being asked about perfect brunchy background albums is a strong compliment & I will happily furnish you with a list at any time and 2) the hyper-specific geographic & social issues concept album is a long & glorious tradition in British popular music, stretching back at least as far as The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, all the way up through Parklife, Different Class, and A Grand Don’t Come For Free. Saint Etienne have been working in this idiom for ages and they are so coolly, smoothly accomplished at it that you might not hear on first listen how skilled they are, but trust: this is the most ambitious thing I’ve heard from them, and it’s a feast. So! I’ll both stand by my earlier assessment of St. Etienne as sounding like what it would feel like to live inside a Boden catalog, and raise it by saying that if you need a sonic equivalent to a giant, icy glass of perfectly sweet-tart sparkling lemonade this summer, Home Counties is your girl.
I enjoy reading about workplace disputes. The ways that (occasionally) human idiosyncrasies & (more frequently) straight-up bad behavior, combined with (generally insufficient amounts of) cold, hard cash can ruin relationships is a weirdly compelling combination of troubling and instructive. This week, the workplace I can’t stop thinking about is the Swedish black metal band Ghost, whose members are formerly anonymous musicians, all of whom - except, notably, for the lead singer, I think you can see where this is going - wear spooky-ass mouthless horned metal masks and went by the shared moniker A Nameless Ghoul. (A Nameless Ghoul. For a nation very positively stereotyped around the world as being minimalist & cool lovers of socialized medicine, Swedes sure are super extra.) The impeccably headlined article Hell on Earth! Satanic Band Files Suit Citing Dreary Work Conditions appeared in The Wall Street Journal this week, offering readers such highlights from a recently-filed lawsuit as a rather disgusting and demeaning laundry situation, intra-band squabbles about where to eat while on the road, and the lead singer’s refusal to offer his colleagues the profit-sharing arrangements they’d been led to expect. Takeaways: 1) put your financial arrangements in writing, always. 2) Never forget that a signature stipple illustration of A Nameless Ghoul has appeared in the pages of the WSJ. Find out what A [former] Nameless Ghoul likes to listen to in his spare time with this What’s In My Bag video from LA’s Amoeba Records, and if you’d like to see a much more serious side of the black metal scene, you absolutely cannot beat the documentary Until The Light Takes Us.
And, finally, the most important music read of 2017, by my beloved friend &past TBD guest editor Karen Corday:Ass-Out Pants: Who Wore Them Better?Maybe you didn’trealize until just now that you needed a detailed, frame-for-frame comparison between the video for David Lee Roth’s 1986 single “Yankee Rose” and Prince’s iconic live performance of “Gett Off” at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, but you do, and I will bless Karen every day for this act of hilarious & informative service journalism. She incorporates not only very relevant GIFs and still images, but also the broad cultural and deeply personal contexts for each example of ass-out pants, including excerpts from her 1986 diary and quotes from Prince’s costume designer of the era, Stacia Lang, who sketched two possible looks for his performance.
The Harold Herald
I just want to make sure that you all know that Harry wore houndstooth trousers with a very (famously, even) ratty old t-shirt this week. Draped casually over his shoulder was a black pullover festooned with (**deep inhale**) a giant. pink. flamingo. King of Power-Clashing, the end, farewell, tell my family I love them, it's been swell.