Sunday link dump. Blockquotes FTW.
JoAnna Novak with a masterful essay in The Paris Review, connecting Taylor Swift’s 10 minute All Too Well with poet Joe Brainard’s memoir I Remember.
Brainard’s writing is akin to the visual art he made: friendly and image-drenched and nonchalantly funny, kind of telescopic in a diaristic way that’s relentlessly present in its anaphora, and also sometimes sort of sexy. I find myself thinking about Joe Brainard whenever I listen to “All Too Well.” Swift sings the word remember eighteen times. And then there’s the third verse, which begins by conjuring her ex-lover in a childhood photograph, a seemingly ordinary boy with glasses.
Rosencrans Baldwin: Los Angeles after it rains. Turning hydrangea into an adjective is such a flex.
Los Angeles is different after it rains. It’s windy and brightly blue, it’s hydrangean. The next morning, the buildings glow, as if by getting wet, with all the dirt washed off, they’ve become more porous and able to absorb light. Basketball courts and tennis courts are puddled until about lunch.
Mike Hale’s review of the new season of The Crown in the Times, which gets to the core of the challenge in telling the Charles & Diana story. “History is, in general, the enemy of good storytelling.”
Morgan resorts to the same shallow, sentimental notions of love gone sour and family inflexibility that were the stuff of public mythmaking. The idea of practical calculation is floated but rejected with regard to both Diana and her rival, Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams), presumably because the Princess Di story has to be a love story. But even as Morgan is telling us that’s what it is, it doesn’t feel like that’s what it is. The type of story that would really make sense of Charles and Diana would very likely have to be a wilder, harsher, more corrosive story than “The Crown” can afford to be. Such a telling would probably trigger the supposed guardians of historical accuracy to an even greater extent than Morgan’s fictionalizations already do. History is, in general, the enemy of good storytelling, and Morgan can’t be blamed for putting words in people’s mouths; his characters are his, not ours, and many of the show’s best moments are those characters’ stirring, wholly invented lectures on one another’s bad behavior.
Tom Breihan at Stereogum on “Crazy in Love”. I love his ongoing series The Number Ones, where he’s reviewing every Billboard #1 hit from 1958 to the present. I don’t read all of them, but I definitely read this one.
“Crazy In Love” didn’t suddenly surge into existence; it came out of the same pop-industry process that’s produced virtually every other song that’s appeared in this column. But “Crazy In Love” is the kind of dizzy alchemy that can only happen when everyone involved in that process is operating at peak capacity, when they work together to make something that positively levitates.
Rachel Handler: Bed Habits. Long sleep diary, trying to find some clarity about blue screens. The lede is the best part:
Here is an incomplete list of things I need in order to fall asleep at night: a room that sustains 70 degrees without the help of air-conditioning; complete darkness and total voidlike silence save for a shockingly loud white-noise machine placed directly next to my head; five pillows (one under my head, one under my chin, one between my knees, one directly on top of my face, one sitting on top of my chest); a completed to-do list; a clean apartment; a clean conscience; the knowledge that everyone I love is never going to die; assurance from a Russian official with total security clearance that they aren’t going to incite nuclear war; universal health care; and a fan.
Dan Pfeiffer: Why Extremism Trumped Inflation in ‘22. I loved this bit about why Democrats were so surprised about the midterm results:
We have political PTSD scars from a shocking loss in 2016 and an almost as shocking near loss in 2020. Despite losing often, Republicans pound their chests and prance around. Despite winning the popular vote in every election but one since 1988, Democrats mope around doing an Eeyore impression.
The Generalist: The Casino and the Genie. Mario Gabriele comes to terms with FTX and SBF.
Historically, I’ve seen crypto as a debaucherous hackathon. Sure, some off-color activities might take place here and there – some light gambling, for example – but it is fundamentally a sector defined by what it is building. Over the past year, I’ve learned that not only is this wrong, it’s perfectly wrong. Crypto is not a hackathon with a little betting; it’s a casino where spontaneous entrepreneurship occasionally breaks out. The emphasis I’d assumed should be inverted, flipped on its head.
Matt Webb: The Minecraft generation meets property law and AI-synthesised landscapes. Voxels, voxels, voxels:
I know there are 3D edit tools that allow precision, but I feel like fine control is maladaptive in this situation. You want to be able to make something gorgeous, and easily, and have full creative expression. That’s what voxels provide, plus the application of AI which - thanks to the prompt - has all the almost-infinite variety of latent space.
For obvious reasons, Substack Chat is interesting.
Today we are launching Chat, a new space for writers and creators to host conversations with their subscribers. Chat is a community space reimagined specifically for writers and creators— it’s like having your own private social network where you make the rules. Writers set the topic and the tone for every discussion, and can turn the feature on or off at any time.