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:
Carl: If it was hard to hear that Felicia Pearson – whose performance as Snoop on The Wire felt like something unprecedented on television – was arrested on drug charges this week, one can only imagine how painful it was for Wire creator David Simon. But unlike most entertainment-industry figures he has a completely unselfish, non-narcissistic reaction and makes the point that whatever trouble she’s in is part of a much bigger continuum of social injustice. Because Pearson represents the extremely rare case (at least outside hip-hop) of a person from the “other America” who has achieved fame, what’s happened to her makes the news. But as Simon points out, what her case should make us think about is all the news that we don’t hear, every day.
Another kind of news I didn’t hear, but found out just in time for International Women’s Day: That a new single appeared last month from Poly Styrene, one of the great feminist voices of the original punk era to whom riot grrrls and cannibal$ alike are forever in debt. “Virtual Boyfriend” sounds surprisingly up-to-the-moment and Poly totally spry of voice, which is especially great to hear since she recently revealed she’s dealing with cancer (to which you’ve got to say, “Oh cancer, up yours!”). The album is due in April.
It’s been linked to all over the place but writer Shelley Jackson has created one of the most fascinating projects in Internet/participatory art of late along with her 2,000 collaborators and, it should not be forgotten, their tattoo artists.
I became a fan of the writer Stephen Metcalf through the Slate Culture Gabfest, an addictive weekly coffee klatch in which he comes off almost as an American Stephen Fry, thanks to his wit and big erudite brain (even if an American Stephen Fry can be, of course, no Stephen Fry). Which made it kind of hilarious to me that he’s written an article about the fact that all four therapists he’s had in his life have at some point fallen asleep on him mid-session, making him wonder if he’s “the Ted Williams of narcissistic monotony”, or if something more complex and unconscious was going on, or if maybe psychoanalysis is bullshit. He doesn’t really solve anything but the story is worth reading at least for its punchline.
All my friends this week were losing their shit and becoming weepy messes over this James Blake cover of “Case of You,” my (and everybody’s) favourite Joni Mitchell song. (Warning: An obnoxious DJ breaks the mood right at the end.) And fair enough, as the latest-hot-thing UK artist does a beautiful job with it. But I am still deeply cathected to another version, which always feels to me like a mainline that crisscrosses five types of North American musical beauty and discovers the same elixir pumping through all of their veins. I could drink a case of it.
Chris: Not to turn this blog into B2TW: Presented by the Mountain Goats or anything , but TMG’s John Darnielle dashed off a timely Billy Bragg cover. I hope that other musicians follow his lead and record a compilation’s worth of union songs.
After completely botching its previous online incarnation, The Comics Journal just relaunched that site with the Comics Comics gang in charge. Some issues remain: there are too few female contributors, though the editors have promised to correct that. (Coincidentally, the new Graphic Ladies tumblr is aggregating comics and comics criticism by women.) But plenty of good articles have been published already, including a 1988 Jules Feiffer interview from the Journal‘s massive archives:
GROTH: Did you see any moral impropriety in doing that? In getting unemployment insurance that you didn’t deserve?
FEIFFER: Are you kidding? No, because I thought I did deserve it. I thought the work I was doing on the dole was real work, and important work, and serious work. And the work I was doing that I was paid for was bullshit.
GROTH: Right. But that’s really not what the dole was meant for.
FEIFFER: Oh, yes it was [laughter]. You’ve never heard of grants before? The National Endowment. This was my early version of the National Endowment. I gave myself a Guggenheim.