I go through a lot of readings during the week, and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen them. Going forward, I’ll regularly compile lists of articles that I think are good reads, as they organize my thoughts and saves me from spamming friends with links.
1. Noble heritages and Dickensonian intrigue. Secrets of Grey Gardens
A piece of quintessential American history, now revived by a HBO movie (tonight) starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Big Edie and Little Edie (of the Bovier family) were aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her sister Lee Radziwill. The story surrounding their lives together in the Grey Gardens mansion had all elements of intrigue: an isolated twosome, crazy mother, lots of cats, psychological control, family feuds. All this was recorded by a documentary named Grey Gardens back in the 70s. New York Mag produced a feature that recounted first hand encounters with those two.
2. Will Africa’s practice of Christianity lead the way in the 21st century? Mission from Africa
The days when westerners send missionaries to Africa in order to convert and save souls are all but over. The long and detailed account from NY Times magazine suggests a reversal of roles. Not content with the exponential growth of followers in their continent alone, more and more African priests and preachers are landing on American shore to fulfill and provide the spiritual outlet so desperately sought after by Americans. In the process of doing so, they bring a different variety of Christianity to the establishment. One complete with entranced congregations that weep, dance, speak in tongues, and receive exorcism.
3. Prosperity versus security, maybe we can’t have both? Germany Strangely Relaxed About the Crisis
A few years ago, an economist might have looked at Germany and shook his head on the (still) relatively inflexible labour market, high percentage of renters, and little stock market investment by the general public. Look who’s laughing now? Many parts of Germany feel little heat from the ongoing recession. For the precise reasons that 1) there’s no property bubble, and many rent anyway, 2) hardly anyone invested directly in the stock market, and 3) job losses are slow and cushioned by social security. Some predict a slower recovery for Germany and all of Europe. But here’s a question for all your sociologists out there: given the choice, would some people in America prefer to trade higher growth rate for a more secure way of living?
4. Is the era of finance over? With Finance Disgraced, Which Career Will Be King?
It’s hard to process that idea, if it’s indeed true. If finance no longer commands the same level of respect and dollars it had for the past few decades, then what other careers can possibly replace it? The article reminds us of seismic shifts of eras past: times when engineering and science ruled. What do we have to look forward to now?
5. Suicide is high not only in the army, but in the army recruiting business. Why Are Army Recruiters Killing Themselves?
Articles like these make me convinced that there’s an undeniable need for investigative journalism – someone needs to tell the story, and they need the resources to do so. This one shone light on yet another cruel byproduct of war, and leads me to think that Iraqi veterans could probably be more accurately termed Iraqi survivors. To survive the physical battlefield is one thing, to escape the psychological mess the former created is another, and to crawl out of the pure hell erected by recruiting quota (a business many veterans inevitably gravitate towards) can prove next to impossible for some soldiers portrayed in this article.
6. How Lululemon got so successful. Lululemon’s Cult of Selling
Lululemon started in Canada (Vancouver) as a yoga apparel business. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but sometime around 2005/2006, girls on university campuses had all but replaced their jeans with those butt-accentuating yoga sweatpants. Their stores are everywhere in Canada, and making out just as well in certain parts of the US. Fast Company relays all these facts, but also kind of insinuates a bit of skepticism on Lululemon’s employee training methods. I won’t spoil it, but The Secret, Scientology, and Landmark Forum are mentioned.
7. Breaking down the psychological plays behind the Twilight franchise. What Girls Want
Anyone else would have relegated the sweeping success that is Twilight to the precise manner by which it tapped the female psyche and released the hidden fantasies of girls and grown women alike. Caitlyn Flanagan isn’t everyone else. She prodded the question through an examination of the effects of divorce and relocation on a teenage girl’s inner life. In the process of doing so, she made eloquent observations that connected the fear of pregnancy with vampire-induced death, echoed the relationship between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, touched on the collective desire for old-fashioned romances in the new tech and post-feminist world, referenced Hitchcock’s Rebecca, and made a case for the monopolization in the construction of modern girls’ desires and fantasies by middle-aged women. I’m no fan of bad writing, but if they can lead to more essays like this, then I’m all for it.
8. An online relationship, that stays online. A Geek Love Story
Before you turn away and judge, you got to read the justification behind those Second Life relationships. Most of us live within some kind of self-constructed bubble anyway, so what’s wrong with taking it a step further, right? Maybe that line between reality and fantasy is even blurrier than we thought.
Guilty Read: Zac Efron as The Graduate in GQ
Good taste is clearly dead, if Zac Efron makes the cover of GQ. But my distain turned to delight once I started reading the interview/feature in GQ by Alex Pappademas. It’s full of smutty observations and unflattering sneers under the guise of journalism. My question is this: do you really belong on the front page of GQ if your bangs resemble Japanimation (and copied by Sasha Baron Cohen aka the upcoming Bruno), you’re more or less labeled as a cliched, contrived and insecure little boy, saying what you think your interviewer wants to hear, throws around Marlon Brando and other film legend names that you have nothing to do with, check out women that (let’s face it) you clearly have no interests in? A good chuckle for the weekend, my guilty read of the week.