The rumors are true: Emoji God is dead. Why oh why do you hate us, Tim Cook? What did Prayer Hands Emoji truthers ever do to you? To this, and other acts of technological religious eradication, we say: Long live Emoji God.
“Why Do Severed Goat Heads Keep Turning Up in Brooklyn?” by Adrian Chen
It was time to consult the oracle. I Googled “Goat heads + New York.” Here I learned that the city’s suburbs have been experiencing an oddly complementary goat-head related issue. Last fall in Westchester County, a bunch of headless goat carcasses began to turn up in public places. When a decapitated goat was found in a plastic bag along with some chicken carcasses in September, the authorities there leaped into action and called upon an occult expert named Marcos Quinones to investigate. Maybe he’d have some insight into the Goat Heads of Park Slope, I thought. But I mentioned Quinones to Alex Mar, a journalist who has researched the occult and fringe religions in America for her upcoming book Witches of America, and she wrote back: “Watch out for those ‘occult experts.’ Very 80s-paranoia.”
To me, though, the overlapping sagas of First Look and The New Republic were less a dramatic climax of the zeitgeist than a slow-motion train wreck that had already ejected me through the windows and into the woods. Even as the press notices greeting these enterprises had first unspooled, I couldn’t help but hear the low moan of a gathering nemesis in the distance. Or—to switch up my entertainment metaphors—I felt increasingly like a seasoned horror movie fan, espying all the telltale signs of a disaster waiting to happen: the callow corporate rhetoric of disruptive genius, the witless embrace of a nonsensical array of platforms and formats in a sequence seemingly adapted from a Mad Libs game book, the airy dismissal of content-production as though it were simply a species of hireling grunt work.
All this had come rushing back because once upon a time, I had lived through it too, in my late, unlamented career as an online news executive in that labyrinth of high-octane managerial passive-aggression known as Yahoo News.
“Who Won the Scene? The Kid vs. Play Freestyle Rap Battle in ‘House Party’” by Shea Serrano
Do you know what 1990’s House Party was? Let me tell you what 1990’sHouse Party was. It was classical tragedy. It was a jarring battle between good vs. evil, and in a stricter sense than I’d ever realized and also a broader sense than I’d ever realized. I’m stupid. I’m stupid like Matthew was, or is.
The most famous scene from House Party is the one where Kid and Play dance-battle Sidney and Sharane. That’s not what this post is about, though. This is a look at its second-most-famous scene: the freestyle rap battle between Kid and Play.
“Higher Education and the Politics of Disruption” by Henry A. Giroux
As higher education’s role as a center of critical thought and civic engagement is devalued, society is being transformed into a “spectacular space of consumption” and financial looting. One consequence is an ongoing flight from mutual obligations and social responsibilities and a loss of faith in politics itself. This loss of faith in the power of politics, public dialogue and dissent is not unrelated to the diminished belief in higher education as central to producing critically engaged, civically literate and socially responsible citizens. At stake here are not only the meaning and purpose of higher education, but also civil society, politics and the fate of democracy itself.
“Flashes of Quincy” by Jeff Weiss
Is there a secret to any of this?
It’s strange when you look back and all these things have happened to me. I don’t deal with fear. The only fear that I had was getting an assignment that I wasn’t capable of delivering on.
When you get to a Sinatra or a Ray Charles, you better be ready for the task—but I was ready for it. And I’m glad that I had this kind of foundation where nothing would shake me up, and it was a pleasure to do.
“Andrew Jackson Doesn’t Belong on a Twenty-Dollar Bill, a Woman Does” by Adele Oliveira
Equal pay for equal work. This $20 that might have a woman’s portrait on it is worth $20 when it’s used for paying people’s salaries: It’s not worth 78 cents on the dollar for women, it’s worth a dollar for a dollar. Yes, it’s symbolic gesture, but symbols matter in this country, and the portraits on the money say something about what we value and what we stand for.
“A Prayer for Cookie” by Liz Galvao
Doer of Time,
Producer of Producers,
Manager of the Unmanageable,
And Mother of Lyons,
In your name,
“Cuba Welcomes You, Yankee Imperialists!” by Hamilton Nolan
Your Michelin guidebook will tell you that Central Havana is “seedy.” This is an impolite way of saying “dirty, and full of brown people who don’t work at your hotel.” In fact, I walked around there for days sporting a visible sunburn and speaking Spanish that consisted mostly of charades and was never seriously fucked with. Cuba has strict gun control, and little violent crime. There are more handguns in an average American’s glove compartment than there are in all of Central Havana. The city as a whole exhibits one of the lowest levels of ambient menace of anywhere I’ve ever been, including Brooklyn.
“Freaknik: The Rise and Fall of Atlanta’s Most Infamous Street Party” by Errin Haines Whack and Rebecca Burns
But Freaknik’s place in HBCU culture had grown even larger, thanks to media hype of the 1993 gridlock and rap videos such as Luther Campbell’s 1993 “Work It Out,” which included footage from Freaknik 1993 and a concert at Lakewood Fairgrounds (now EUE/Screen Gems Studio). With all that buzz, and acts like Snoop Dogg and Queen Latifah scheduled to perform, Freaknik 1994 drew a record 200,000 attendees—70,000 of whom turned out for a Saturday concert in Piedmont Park.
“Death, Redesigned” by John Mooallem
So much about death is agonizingly unknowable: When. Where. Lymphoma or lightning strike. But Bennett recognized there are still dimensions of the experience under our control. He started zeroing in on all the unspoken decisions around that inevitability: the aesthetics of hospitals, the assumptions and values that inform doctors’ and families’ decisions, the ways we grieve, the tone of funerals, the sentimentality, the fear, the schlock. The entire scaffolding our culture has built around death, purportedly to make it more bearable, suddenly felt unimaginative and desperately out of date. “All those things matter tremendously,” Bennett told me, “and they’re design opportunities.” With just a little attention, it seemed — a few metaphorical mirrors affixed to our gurneys at just the right angle — he might be able to refract some of the horror and hopelessness of death into more transcendent feelings of awe and wonder and beauty.
“Blackness in the New Detroit” by Aaron Foley
I sometimes compare being black to pain management of a chronic condition. It is a dull pain, something that can’t ever go away but you learn to live with. And then sometimes, beyond your control, the pain flares up and becomes unbearable. There are the dull pains of being black in Detroit, the constant microaggressions. It’s when you see a piece in a national publication about Detroit’s revival without a single person that looks like you, or when you overhear a “new” Detroiter commenting about something they just discovered, when it’s been there all your life.
[Image via Getty]