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The Reading List: #2

I’m one of those people who saves long articles to Safari’s Reading List, ready to read on the tube or the #55.

Here is what I’ve been saving, if only to help promote some interesting long form journalism. If you want to be one of the people that I update by email, fill in the form below. If you have something that you’d like to share, please email to atwater@gmail.com.

Keep the things you forgot
An Elliot Smith oral history [Pitchfork]

I didn’t talk to anybody for like eight years. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t deal. The edge needed to wear off a little bit, because it was so raw. Elliott and I have mutual friends who talked a lot, right at the beginning. Now they’re like, “I’m done, I never want to hear his name again.”

Siegfried & Roy ten years later
Reflecting on the night that ended Siegfried & Roy’s Vegas reign [Las Vegas Weekly]

Putting Montecore down was never considered by Siegfried and Roy, and today the big cat is a senior citizen by white tiger standards, 16 years old and living in Vegas.

The highly unusual company behind Sriracha, the world’s coolest hot sauce
All Hail the Rooster [Quartz]

The other upshot of the high demand is that in 33 years, according to Tran, Huy Fong Foods has neither employed a single salesman nor spent a cent on advertising. Advertising would merely widen the gap between demand and supply even further. ”I don’t advertise, because I can’t advertise,” Tran explained.

How Louis CK’s Directing Style Helps Him Translate His Standup to the Screen in ‘Louie’
Comedy Film School [Splitsider]

Much of this is classic French New Wave style filmmaking, which is known for it’s combination of single camera, on-location realism with a certain self-aware choreography in it’s representation of everyday city life. However, Louis C.K. also takes his inspiration from Surrealist cinema, which allows him to go even further in breaking narrative convention and dramatic psychology. For example, it is not presented as strange that his ex-wife and the mother of this children in the show is black, despite the children very clearly not being of mixed parentage. While not as viscerally shocking as Luis Bunuel’s razor through an eyeball in his classic Surrealist film Un Chien Andalou, the effect is all the same, C.K. forces reaction and consideration from an audience with the casting of a black actress that a more dramatically conventional choice would not allow.

Academy Fight Song [The Baffler]

The coming of “academic capitalism” has been anticipated and praised for years; today it is here. Colleges and universities clamor greedily these days for pharmaceutical patents and ownership chunks of high-tech startups; they boast of being “entrepreneurial”; they have rationalized and outsourced countless aspects of their operations in the search for cash; they fight their workers nearly as ferociously as a nineteenth-century railroad baron; and the richest among them have turned their endowments into in-house hedge funds.

This week's, and the first, Reading List

I’m one of those people who saves long articles to Safari’s Reading List, ready to read on the tube or the #55.

Starting today, I’ll be posting what I’ve been saving, if only to help promote some interesting long form journalism. If you want to be one of the people that I update by email, fill in the form below. If you have something that you’d like to share, please email to atwater@gmail.com.

Scrap or Die
What happens when people start tearing a city apart piece-by-piece?

Due to the combination of the 2007 mortgage crisis and a roughly simultaneous rise in metal prices worldwide, scrapping has exploded in cities across America. And nowhere more so than in Cleveland, which has the highest number of reported metal thefts per capita in the country. As a result, Cleveland has become the sort of city where ten to 20 manhole covers go missing in one night and a toddler falls into one of the pits left behind; where people joke about getting electrocuted just walking down the street because the ground wire has been plucked from all the telephone poles; where copper statues downtown honoring important figures in American history have been replaced by composite ones painted to look like copper to deter thieves. The scrappers, in other words, are everywhere, boldly tearing away at the city’s infrastructure in broad daylight like vultures hovering over a pack of lemmings that followed one another over the edge of a cliff.

Freedom of information
The Guardian wants to take its aggressive investigations global, but money is running out

Jeff Jarvis, an Internet evangelist who teaches journalism at the City University of New York and who advises the Guardian’s editor, says that eventually the Guardian will have to generate more revenue from its digital edition, abandon its print newspaper, or reduce the number of days it publishes. “Every day they wait is dollars gone,” he said. As for printing only on certain days, he says, “Die Zeit, in Germany, is a good model. One day a week in print and the rest digital.”

No Choice
Canada is the only country in the world that has no abortion law, but now abortion is suddenly up for debate. Is this the start of a new culture war?.

In early February, the National Post and the Vancouver Province ran front-page articles about Abbotsford Right to Life’s annual Cemetery of the Innocent, a field of some 1,860 crosses meant to mark the number of abortions that happen in Canada on a weekly basis. Jared White, who attended the National Pro-Life Conference as Abbotsford Right to Life’s representative, said that last year’s Cemetery received little public attention. So, this year, he was surprised when the front page of the Province read, in all-caps, “ABORTION BATTLEFIELD.” The movement is making inroads.

Networking into the Abyss
Inside the empty bubble of SXSW Interactive

For ten days each March, Austin, Texas, becomes suffused with an ambient hucksterism. It creeps into the city like a low-lying fog, concentrating in the downtown area, where numbing displays of corporate extravagance and desperate marketing stunts become the order of the day. Occasionally, this hucksterism condenses into one insufferable person, who comes to symbolize all that is wrong with South by Southwest Interactive, the tech-themed portion of the rapidly metastasizing SXSW festival—and, by extension, the vacuous blather of the technology industry itself.

Bonus cartoon: Christopher Columbus was awful
Last Monday, while right thinking people were celebrating Thanksgiving, Americans were celebrating Columbus Day. The Oatmeal details why Christopher Columbus has a claim of being history’s greatest monster.

Blackberry maker CEO is delusional


“There’s nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now,” Heins said on Canadian Broadcasting Corp’s Metro Morning radio show.

“I’m not talking about the company as I, kind of, took it over six months ago. I’m talking about the company (in the) state it’s in right now.”

H/T Amil

Laying wreaths on Captain Vancouver's London grave on Canada Day

St. Peter’s in Petersham, London, could never be so full as it is on each 1 July, when the little building is full of displaced Canadians making a rare church visit to watch wreaths be laid upon Captain George Vancouver’s grave.

Vancouver didn’t discover his namesake city, the First Nations have lived there for thousands of years. He didn’t found the townsite—that occurred in 1862, 64 years after his death. He wasn’t even the first choice for the name, Hastings came first then Granville. But the Canadian Pacific Railway land speculators thought that was a hint of grandeur in the name Vancouver and that’s what they chose for their new end-of-the-line station in 1886.

We took the District Line to Richmond then, mostly, walked along the Thames to Petersham, and to St. Peter’s. Here is a short video I took of the memorial service for Vancouver’s Megaphone Magazine.

Afterwards, we walked up the back way from Petersham, up Richmond Hill to the terrace and found that we were looking at this scene from our seat at the Roebuck Pub.

The cruelest paper in Paris is also the funniest and most solvent

Der Speigel on Le Canard Enchaîné

Canard, on the other hand, France’s only satirical weekly newspaper, is doing well in this ailing country. Circulation went up by 32 percent in the first two years after Sarkozy’s inauguration, and thanks the country’s numerous scandals it now prints 700,000 copies per week. Net profit was roughly €5 million ($6.9 million) in 2009. For decades, the paper has covered France’s scandals with credible and reliable reporting, while at the same time publishing decidedly malicious cartoons, tongue-in-cheek opinion pieces and fictitious columns by politicians.

The paper is owned by its editors and has an incredible cash reserve and property holding of €110 million.

Gerry Adams singlehandedly changes British constitution by resigning from Westminster

One of the joys of having an unwritten constitution, such as the one that the UK operates under, is that it can a) bend to new circumstances and b) change in a heartbeat if someone refuses to obey stupid rules.

For the past 400 years, MPs have not had the option of resigning their seat, their only way out was to be disqualified. The honourable way of being disqualified was to accept an office of profit from the Crown. Two such positions, Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham and the Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead were available, if applied to, and granted by, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Otherwise, you’re stuck.

Today Sein Fenn leader Gerry Adams took a third option. Desiring to run for a seat in the Irish parliament, which does not permit sitting Westminster MPs, Adams sent a letter to the Speaker resigning his seat. No Crown Steward position. No Bailiffing. And 400 years of history are kaput.

Gerry Adams makes British Parliamentary history