Friday, February 19, 2016

Weekend Reads

Every so often I find myself in a reading drought, where I don't want to read the things that I normally want to read – no contemporary novels, no fantasy, nothing even fiction... I just want to read interesting, thought-provoking things where I can learn something without committing to a 300-page journey that requires the suspension of disbelief or the exercise of my imagination. Most of the time, my craving results in obsessively reading the news, magazine articles, and occasionally the self-help listicle (but all of those listicles tend to blend together after a while), so I thought I might start sharing some of my favorite reads, since I spend so much of my downtime on Medium and Pocket and all those other websites/apps anyway.

Inside Harvey Levin's TMZ


Found via Danielle Binks! Such a fascinating world we live in, where celebrity secrets are a commodity, and their comings and goings are written about by people who are essentially real beat reporters. There's a lot of fluff in those stories, but there's also an incredible power in being the first to document something that sets the pop culture wheels in motion – or to even be the media outlet that pushes pop culture in a certain direction. (See: Paris Hilton bringing some random girl named Kim to a nightclub in LA. And TMZ being the first to capture it. Oh, and by the way, Kim's last name is Kardashian.)

The behind-the-scenes look at TMZ is totally compelling. It's a game of people using people to get ahead – except here, the terms are almost mutually agreed upon. The average person might think celebrity gossip is trashy and despicable, a tasteless violation of privacy, but the reality (as far as TMZ is concerned) is that there's an intricate dance involved in validating information and toeing the line between destroying a person and propping them up. It's more than mindless chatter. There's strategy and relationship management and creativity and, yeah, maybe Harvey Levin is a complete dick, but he's also really bright and really resourceful, and I kind of have to admire him for that.

What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage

(click to read)

Appropriate read for Valentine's Day. I can't really speak too much about this particular article – love is one of those things that I have very complicated, personal views on – so I'll just leave you with these passages that I really like & that offer some kind of paradigm shift:

"Someone is dying in their own bed, and someone’s spouse is sitting at the bedside, holding the dying person’s hand, and also handling all kinds of unspeakable things that people who aren’t drowning in gigantic piles of cash sometimes have to handle all by themselves. To me, that’s romance. Romance is surviving and then not surviving anymore, without being ashamed of any of it.

"[A]t some point, let’s be honest, death supplies the suspense. How long can this glorious thing last? your eyes sometimes seem to ask each other. You, for one, really hope this lasts a whole hell of a lot longer. You savor the repetitive, deliciously mundane rhythms of survival, and you want to keep surviving. You want to muddle through the messiness of life together as long as you possibly can. That is the summit. Savor it. That is the very definition of romance."

Was Dr. Asperger A Nazi? The Question Still Haunts Autism

(click to read)

This one ties back to my post a few weeks ago about All the Light We Cannot See. It really gets at one of the questions I perpetually struggle with: How do we decide if someone is "good" or "bad"? What lens are we using, and how can we be sure that that's the right one? After all, we're inherently biased and limited by our own experiences – most of us probably lack the foresight and ability to understand the long game strategy, or even just the bigger picture. I especially appreciate this sentiment: The controversy also gets to the heart of the difficulty of accurately judging the behavior of people living under brutal regimes, particularly decades after the fact.


This Is How Paris Hilton Fooled the Entire United States of America

(click to read)

Speaking of Paris Hilton... This is an article I read a few weeks ago and posted as an afterthought on my other/new blog – which, by the way, I've almost officially given up on. Anyway, I thought this was a really intriguing story about the personas we build – the way we play ourselves to play others. It's similar to that TMZ article above, in that there's people who manipulate circumstances to get ahead, but the manipulation isn't bad, in and of itself. People expect one thing, and you give it to them, and they get what they want, and you get ahead. And it isn't just Paris Hilton either – think about all the celebrities who you shake your head at – their ridiculous outfits, the stunts they pull, the relationships they get into... and consider that maybe some, if not all, of those actions, outfits, stunts, relationships are actually planned and carefully thought through. Is your mind blown yet?

What do you think about these reads? Are there any articles you've been reading lately that are of interest? I've been wanting to start a non-book book club – I guess it'd just be an article club a la Joanna Goddard – where you'd pick a few articles and read them and talk about them with people... Does anyone else think this would be fun??!

1 comment:

  1. I'm interested with How Paris Hilton Fooled the Entire USA. I haven't read much lately other than the book I am into right now. This is such a brilliant idea to start your week with. (Thank you, btw.) I think this is fun. Keep it up!

    Yani at Paper Boulevard

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