Here is a joke I found on the internet that seems appropriate given what’s transpired this week. Question: What do politicians and diapers have in common? (No, not that!) Answer: They should both be changed regularly—and for the same reason. And with that, onto our favorite stories from the past week.
“Fantastic Four Blame Game: Fox, Director Josh Trank Square Off Over On-Set Chaos” by Kim Masters
Director Josh Trank, 31, could not resist tweeting on Aug. 6, as the movie was hitting theaters, that he had made “a fantastic version” of the film that audiences would “probably never see.” Though Trank quickly deleted the tweet, his public disavowal of the film at such a key moment enraged 20th Century Fox executives and stirred a pot that had begun to bubble when the director was dropped by Lucasfilm from a Star Wars stand-alone film at the end of April, prompting THR to report that one of the causes was his erratic behavior on Fantastic Four.
“0 Miles to Wall Drug: A Half-Day at the World’s Largest Drugstore” by Jamie Lauren Keiles
If you miss your first billboard for Wall Drug (you won’t), do not fret, for there are hundreds more. They populate the 650-mile span of I-90 that connects Montana to Minnesota, and each new sighting feels as thrilling as the last, a welcome commercial break from the stress of processing so much big. Sometimes the billboards ask, Have you dug Wall Drug? or implore things like DON’T MISS OUT. Other times they advertise amenities (Hot Coffee 5¢), or assert relevance (WALL DRUG as told by Good Morning America), or shout timely slogans out into the empty plains (YOLO Wall Drug). The first sign for the drugstore was erected in 1936 and advertised Free Ice Water to weary motorists. Before this sign, Wall Drug was a dying pharmacy in the dying town of Wall, South Dakota (population 326, and waning). After the sign, the store survived as a result of a geographic coincidence that happened to situate Mount Rushmore 76 miles to the west. The nationalist road trip pilgrimage site opened in 1941 and provided Wall Drug with a consistent stream of thirsty passers-through. Today, however, the megastore thrives as a destination in its own right, a 76,000-square-foot, self-sustaining monument to something, though the nature of that something is not immediately clear.
“Bernie Sanders Can’t Save Black People” by Greg Howard
I, and other people, too, tend to believe that racial injustice is different from economic injustice; that black Americans are poor because of racism, more than that racism is the result of black Americans being poor; and, further, that racism is the driving force behind the capricious and fluid idea of race. It is racism that has led to layers upon layers of policy that keep blacks as a social underclass being conceived and executed; racism that has led to policies like redlining, which still exist, in various forms, today; racism that has led to things like segregated neighborhoods and schools; racism that has led to millions upon millions of minorities today being corralled in ghettos; and racism that has led to the average white household having 16 times the wealth of the average black one in 2015. Black people aren’t systemically oppressed because they don’t have money; they don’t have money because they are systemically oppressed, because the American voting public is in favor of them being so.
“A Guide to the Christian Vlog Community Where the Biggest Blessing Is a Baby” by Allie Jones
If the idea of parents profiting off of a (real or imagined) pregnancy seems immoral, know that Sam and Nia are not the first good Christian vlogging couple to do it. Plenty of young, attractive mommies and daddies with Jesus in their hearts and expensive cameras in their hands have been live-vlogging their reproductive successes for years now. Babies are a gift from god, these vloggers will tell you, and they are also the most surefire way to rack up views and subscribers on YouTube.
“Ramiro Gomez’s Domestic Disturbances” by Lawrence Weschler
Such questions, of the relative worth and value of human lives, are at the very heart of Gomez’s interventions. I admired their directness. Art is a conspiracy between artists and rich people, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s characters once said, to make poor people feel stupid. These days, it can feel as if art is instead a conspiracy among artists, dealers, curators and the otherwise art-school indoctrinated to make the rest of us feel clueless. The immediacy of Gomez’s address was part of why I found his work so refreshing. ‘‘An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way,’’ Charles Bukowski declared. ‘‘An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.’’ And though not pitched principally to intellectuals or theorists, Gomez’s work often plumbed profound depths beyond its simple, placid surfaces. ‘‘The purpose of art,’’ James Baldwin said, ‘‘is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.’’
“Stunned by the Watts Riots, the LA Times Struggles to Make Sense of the Violence” by Doug Smith
Forty-five years later, I looked back on how they told Los Angeles’ most tumultuous story of that era, and my first reaction was, “How could this coverage have won a Pulitzer Prize?”
I’m not suggesting the work was unworthy. I read the stories with admiration for the reporters’ newswriting skill and for the courage of many white reporters who headed into the conflict zone.
But as the coverage continued day after day, it became apparent how unprepared these journalists were to probe the complex social currents that ignited and fueled the upheaval.
“The Teflon Toxin” by Sharon Lerner
Concerns about the safety of Teflon, C8, and other long-chain perfluorinated chemicals first came to wide public attention more than a decade ago, but the story of DuPont’s long involvement with C8 has never been fully told. Over the past 15 years, as lawyers have been waging an epic legal battle — culminating as the first of approximately 3,500 personal injury claims comes to trial in September — a long trail of documents has emerged that casts new light on C8, DuPont, and the fitful attempts of the Environmental Protection Agency to deal with a threat to public health.
Oprah’s Angels: 65 Families, One Big Storm, and the American Dream by Peter Moskowitz
Moving on from Katrina was not only about forgetting, but about reconvincing the rest of the country, that everything was okay—that despite the billions of dollars of aid bungled by FEMA, despite the blatant racism exhibited by local, state, and national leaders after the storm, life would not only return to normal after Katrina, but somehow be better. And reaffirming the essential fairness of America required people like Oprah Winfrey and Angel Lane.
[Image via Getty]