Tea With Chris: Control

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: John Darnielle and Kathleen Hanna, two of my cultural heroes, spoke/performed at a rally for the threatened women’s-health organization Planned Parenthood. Until reading Sara Marcus’ Girls to the Front this week, I hadn’t realized just how urgent riot grrrl was in its political moment: the Supreme Court decided Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.

Abortion rights aren’t imperiled to the same extent now, but slashing funding for birth control and family-planning programs suggests that conservative congressmen (sic, sic, sic, typically) are less concerned with “life” than control over the female sexuality that generates it. As Hanna makes clear, the group they’re targeting saves people. Just ask an abortion provider.

Geoff “BLDGBLOG” Manaugh interviewed novelist China Mieville about architecture and urbanity, with predictably great results, but their best exchange might be the one knocking around allegory:

“I’m always much happier talking in terms of metaphor, because it seems that metaphor is intrinsically more unstable. A metaphor fractures and kicks off more metaphors, which kick off more metaphors, and so on. In any fiction or art at all, but particularly in fantastic or imaginative work, there will inevitably be ramifications, amplifications, resonances, ideas, and riffs that throw out these other ideas. These may well be deliberate; you may well be deliberately trying to think about issues of crime and punishment, for example, or borders, or memory, or whatever it might be. Sometimes they won’t be deliberate.

“But the point is, those riffs don’t reduce. There can be perfectly legitimate political readings and perfectly legitimate metaphoric resonances, but that doesn’t end the thing. That doesn’t foreclose it. The text is not in control. Certainly the writer is not in control of what the text can do—but neither, really, is the text itself.”

Marvel once decided to publish this comic where the Punisher was surgically transformed into a black man before reliving the Rodney King beating. Oh, the ’90s.

Carl: Fans of David Foster Wallace are going to have reasons to be a little less sad this spring (and then, one imagines, a little sadder still). The first sign is this previously unpublished story this week in The New Yorker, which will only make us more impatient to read The Pale King. Though part of me wants to wait as long as possible to do that.

All right, now. So, sure, there’s a fascinating aspect to Charlie Sheen’s toxic sheen, especially the sort of hyperbolic transcendentalist poetry that is coming out of his mouth. But he’s still a misogynist, woman-beating, probably racist scumbag who’s never done anything to warrant all the attention. John Galliano at least has made some things worth looking at. But Cintra Wilson, swoon-worthily, gets the lesson right:

“In the lack of a dialogue about political economy and its effects on individual psyches, capitalist nations instead indulge the delusion that these things are unrelated. We are tacitly encouraged, as a society, not to see corruption as the product of elitism and power — not class-related, in other words — but accidental every time, a result of the personal weakness of the powerful individual, who we are encouraged to view as an aberration — mentally ill, an addict — an exception to the rule, rather than the norm.

“The super-rich are so over-engorged, so coddled, so disgusted with themselves, they are turning into demons, because they have lost all touch with reality and all faith in the boundaries of a sane world. And when tyrants and stars, nation-states and classes believe they are Nietzschean ubermenschen, beyond good and evil, there is, quite frequently, a body count.”

I’m reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids right now, which is a wonderful memoir, moving on every page, and it really makes you wonder how we get suckered into thinking about dickheads like Charlie Sheen when we could be thinking about Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith.

Because, sorry, Charlie, but this is what tiger blood really looks like:

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