Tea With Chris: Mentorship in Villainy

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: I intended to write about Tintin this week, sort of, but it turns out that the virginal Belgian reporter has more layers than one might expect. So that’ll probably go up on Monday. In the meantime, and via Eric Harvey, here’s some black comedy at the expense of another comics hero. It feels like a good week for it:

As friendly and engaging a writer as he is, Mike Barthel’s essay about contracting Tourette’s syndrome in his twenties took me by surprise: despite following his work more and more over the past couple of years, I didn’t even know he had Tourette’s. It’s strange how an illusory familiarity can build up just from reading somebody’s criticism on the internet. The piece itself is great, its description of his body’s rebellion against his mind seeming less like a “betrayal” – that word could be too melodramatic in this context – than a bloody-minded petulance. He self-diagnosed after reading Motherless Brooklyn, but Barthel’s story has a happier ending; isn’t “I love your tics” a come-on we all want to hear?

Maybe not literally all of us. I can’t speak for 50 Cent, though I’m glad he appears to be following my advice.

Margaux: The ImagineNATIVE film festival is happneing right now in Toronto. Today and over the weekend, there will be features and shorts screening at the Jewish Community Center on Spadina and Bloor. Tonight, there’s a screening of shorts at 7 pm (including a short from Shane Belcourt who made the feature Tkaronto). Later there are some scarier ones: at 9 pm a program including a short and a feature called “A Flesh Offering” focusing on Windigos and at 11 pm a program of shorts called “The Witching Hour.” Someone told me that the screenings during the day are free, but I can’t find evidence of that on their website.

Carl: I’ve spent too much of my time the past month reading things people have to say about the TV series Mad Men on the Internet, but perhaps it was all meant to lead me to this forceful rant-essay on new-gen feminist site Tiger Beatdown, about the storyline of the seemingly ever-bitchier Betty Draper Francis, which read more closely is a study in misogyny and the repercussions of abuse. In fact that’s arguably the whole show (lead character Don having been an appallingly abused child), and more as it goes along – almost amounting to a thesis about abusive American 20th-century culture, in which the rebellion of the 1960s was against a certain kind of parenting as much as against war, or rather a wounded backlash from a cohort that had just understood how the two are connected. The post won’t be comprehensible if you haven’t followed the show, but its resonances go much beyond that. Sady’s a bold, moving writer. One of many lines that made me nod so hard my neck hurt: “It’s not easy to come to terms with what was done to you. But it’s much, much harder to come to terms with what you do.”

Speaking of parenting, did you know that Ari Up of the Slits was John (“Johnny Rotten”) Lydon’s stepdaughter, because he married her mom way back in the (punk) day (which goes a long way to explaining how she came to start a punk band at 14)? I can’t believe I didn’t, until this week, when Ari Up died of cancer at only 48 damn damn damn dammit. It’s a hell of a thing, in a season when several books, most notably this one, are looking back at 1990s riot grrrl, to be losing someone who blazed that path for us. One of its stalwart travellers, Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater-Kinney of course, has a suitably furious, frustrated and Promethean tribute to Ari on her NPR blog.

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