There is no chance that we will fall apart

I’m thinking about

I finally cracked open the December 2020 Vanity Fair issue with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the cover. I had seen the pictures online the day it dropped but had to close the tabs when the discourse started. I hate when the discourse is lazy.

The person above thinks they’re making a point about socialist hypocrisy but actually, they’re just parroting ugly capitalist dogma. Namely that poor people don’t deserve nice things because, you see, being poor is a personal failing, and deprivation is the way to atone for that failing.

I noticed people pointing out in the replies that photo shoots are fantasies and that socialists should get to enjoy fantasies sometimes too. I cannot disagree with that but I found that counter also lacking because there is merit in interrogating a powerful person’s fashion shoot. I don’t want my reflexive response to be “well actually, the clothes are borrowed!

I have been invigorated and deeply moved by Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez more than once. Her colleagues do not deserve her. I want her to achieve everything she sets out to do. I think she looks amazing in the VF spread particularly in the Grace Wales Bonner polka dot number but what I really wish we were discussing is how to think and talk critically about a politician on a magazine cover. This is top of mind because I am still making my way through Michelle Obama’s husband’s memoir and being confronted anew with the disappointments of that presidency: drones, Syria, Keystone XL pipeline, not closing Guantanamo, compromising on healthcare, failing immigration reform, leaving DREAMERS hanging, lecturing black folks on race, the yearly spectacle of the thanksgiving turkey pardons while being stingy with pardons of actual human beings and not doing more to reform criminal justice, THE TAN SUIT! Take your pick.

It’s normal to be disappointed by politicians, even ones we like.

It’s also a good thing to take a look in the mirror and examine how much we enable the cult of celebrity in our politics. I would love to live in a world where we stop trying to make politicians celebrities and stop trying to make celebrities politicians. No crossovers. That would be great but it’s too late.

There is a celebrity culture in our political process and that means that we have celebrity politicians. Idolizing celebrities is almost always a huge letdown. Writing or talking about politicians in frivolous ways— as often happens in fashion magazines par example this or a fancy photo shoot, contributes to them being treated as celebrities, held up by meaningless aesthetic gestures.

I’ve found that the way to stay vigilant and to lessen my own disappointment is to not put the politicians I like on pedestals or refuse to think critically about the ways they use the publicity machine. It definitely makes it a little easier to hold them and myself accountable.

I’m reading

I’m listening

I don’t watch award shows because it’s basically like going to someone else’s holiday party. Sounds fun maybe if it was my job or I were a +1 on a hot date and there was delicious food and an open bar and a good DJ but why would I watch that shit from home?! I guess it makes sense if you’re trying to work there or figure out how to get your own employee award title but honestly it all seems very tedious to me. Love to hear the party reports the next day but I do not need to be at the party. That said, I am thrilled for my girl Dua Lipa and her Grammy nominations sweep. Future Nostalgia was the first major album release in the quarantine era. This relentless upbeat dance record might have seemed tonally discordant with the times back in April but it was obviously what we needed. Long live Dula Peep!

I’m watching

My earliest sports memory is watching the Italia ‘90 world cup. I have a vivid memory of Pavarotti belting out Nessun Dorma and Roger Milla shaking his hips. It was an exciting world cup in my house because for the first time, a team from sub-Saharan Africa, Cameroon had advanced past the group stage, and, for the first time, an African team had reached the last eight.

It was also the first time I heard about “the hand of god,” Diego Maradona’s goal in which he punched the ball into England’s net during the Mexico ‘86 quarterfinals. The Argentinian Maradona cheekily referred to this illegal handball as “la mano de dios.” This is a big deal because using your hands to score in football is cheating. Thirty four years later, it’s fair to say that the English press is still very vexed by it all. The war over the Falkland Islands (las Islas Malvinas) between Argentina and the U.K. just four years before that fateful match supplied a very specific revenge fantasy dimension to the whole thing.

People have strong feelings about Maradona but his place in football history is undeniable. I was sad to hear he had died this week. He was an outrageously talented footballer, but also a flawed individual, and Asif Kapadia's wonderful 2019 film, Diego Maradona perfectly captures both the light and the darkness of his personality. Even if you don’t like “sports,” this is a worthwhile documentary. “Sports” is sometimes a useful lens to understand power and to understand the world.

Streaming on HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime and probably any other streamer you use.

Hang in there

There is no chance that we will fall apart

There is no chance

There are no parts

Poem Number Two on Bell’s Theorem, or The New Physicality of Long Distance Love by June Jordan

See you Wednesday. Until then, let’s try our best not to fall apart.