Required Reading

Two Evangelicals in Charleston, South Carolina, decided to start a ballet company and then one of them ended up dead. Writing for Vanity Fair, Alice Robb has the story:

The gushing, sappy entries in their shared journal taper off; stress creeps in. “Something that made you worry today?” the journal asked in June. “Crazy ballet timelines,” Ashley wrote. “Is something in your way?” it prompted. “Yes,” they both answer.

In June, Ashley found Eva’s diary and read it, learning that her stepdaughter hated her. Doug and Ashley argued. They yelled. Doug grabbed a gun—weapons were never far away—and threw it against the wall. “I was just in utter disbelief, everything going on in our life, a lot of stress,” he later said. The fight resumed. In the heat of one argument, he punched a hole in the wall. Another time, Doug picked up a gun and fired it into the ceiling; that same day, he struck the family dog in the face. He later confessed in a written statement: “Sully starts to jump up from under the table and I sadly just hit him.”

Writing for Curbed, Sophia Haigney writes about being sucked in by the Live Auctioneers auction site:

LiveAuctioneers was founded in 2002, though it’s really a digital aggregation of something that has existed for much longer: actual, in-real-life auction houses. Most of these smaller (non-Christie’s, non-Sotheby’s) houses are family owned and take place in person; the scene can feel something like a rodeo or a particularly rowdy baseball game. “Auctions have always been a form of entertainment,” said Mark Millea of the New Jersey–based auction house Millea Bros., which he runs with his brother, Michael. “Like, ‘Let’s go down to Joe Blow’s auction, and we’ll have a hot dog and we’ll watch them sell stuff, and maybe we’ll buy something.’”

LiveAuctioneers is one of the first platforms to merge the chaos of a live auction with e-commerce. And when it first started, there was some resistance from the mom-and-pop auction houses. “The founder actually hit the road in his car to convince auction houses that they would be able to increase their audiences by selling online,” said Phil Michaelson, current CEO of LiveAuctioneers.

Though there are now over 5,000 auction houses on LiveAuctioneers, there are still challenges when it comes to convincing old-school, occasionally fusty auction houses to modernize. For instance: LiveAuctioneers is still working to convince some houses to take credit cards and not to send paper catalogues out for their digital auctions.

Recently, Simone Leigh announced she’s leaving Hauser & Wirth and someone decided it was time to update the Hitler “Downfall” parody meme and well, wow (more about the meme):

As we mentioned on Spaces, the popular Hitler “Downfall” meme was updated by someone (let us know if you know who) after the news that artist Simone Leigh has left the Hauser & Wirth mega-gallery. Enjoy the absurdity of this hilarious commentary on the art world. pic.twitter.com/LS5LXFyJVY

— hyperallergic (@hyperallergic) November 11, 2021

Curbed reimagined what a New York street could look like and the result is quite lovely, though it removes a little of the chaos of the city we all love in varying degress. Written by Justin Davidson, it’s worth checking out the whole post:

New York and Curbed recruited a team of designers and consultants, led by the architecture firm WXY, to approach the streets as a matrix of overlapping, interrelated networks. The allure of more humane cities has generated an entire library’s worth of plans and pilot projects, both top-down and grassroots, for areas like Downtown Brooklyn and Soho. A few years ago, a consortium of Harlem business and organizations collaborated on a plan to redesign East 125th Street. In 2019, the City Council passed a law requiring the Department of Transportation to develop a five-year citywide plan. But this torrent of good intentions and expertise has fragmented the issue further by producing more schemes to ignore, postpone, and gripe about. Most New Yorkers’ concerns are exquisitely parochial: The only time a Bronxite is likely to care about, say, the width of Soho’s sidewalks is if it makes parking there even worse.

So we tried to imagine what a comprehensive transformation would produce on a generic Manhattan block, to the extent that one exists. We chose Third Avenue between East 33rd and 34th Streets because of its concentration of terriblenesses and virtues. It is congested, dense, torn up, noisy, and lively. Lined by towers and tenements, plied by trucks and fed by tunnels, it’s a short walk from offices, hospitals, and trains. Yet we also embraced its frenzy. Our goal was not to impose the serenity of a provincial Dutch city or to streamline the block into anodyne efficiency. New York without friction wouldn’t be New York.

I can’t stop laughing. Millennials are realizing they are no longer the cool kids:

Edward Snowden writing about Ai Weiwei’s book was not something I expected to read this week, but here we are:

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows is a memoir of a man attempting to understand his country, even as his country is trying, or purporting to try, to understand him—through surveillance and investigations, interrogations and detentions. It is also a reminder that, as during the (last) Cultural Revolution, the political battle with the highest stakes will always be waged against the imposition of a monoculture. Within a monoculture, there is tremendous pressure to participate in the enforcement of consensus as if it were truth, which alienates members from the possibility that truth can often stand in opposition to consensus.  

The vaccine against monoculture is tolerance.

Simi Kadirgamar talks to survivors of state violence in Tigray and Kashmir (Bint Ali and Tsinia’t) for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. It offers a unique and thought-provoking different perspective on both conflicts from people who have and continue to live through them:

You know, it’s interesting what technology does and how it makes you feel. I was in Kashmir that August. I literally remember waking up into this kind of absurdity and hollowness. I suddenly felt like [I was] thrown into some kind of a black hole, you know. I couldn’t locate myself, I couldn’t map myself, where I was and what I was supposed to do. And there was absolute silence everywhere because it was not just the communication, it was that there was a complete curfew. You couldn’t go outside your home. You didn’t know what was happening just one mile away in your friend’s or relative’s home. People died and their relatives and immediate family wouldn’t even know. So all that trauma gets triggered when I start talking about it, and in that time I even had to leave my home and go abroad and study. And for months to come I had no idea if my family was alive, and they had no idea what I was doing. 

Internet bans still happen in Kashmir. Just two weeks back the internet was banned for a week in most areas in Kashmir. I mean, this is heartbreaking. We didn’t even have internet to download directions and guidelines for [what we were] supposed to do in this COVID pandemic. What is the pandemic, how [are we] supposed to keep ourselves safe? There were no resources. Forget about watching a YouTube video telling you how to be safe or how to clean your stuff. The pandemic as well as the existing lockdown in Kashmir was a deadly combination. It hampered people’s lives. 

Remember the brouhaha over Pete Buttigieg’s comment about infrastructure and racism that triggered right-wing American pundits? Well, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post has a fascinating “fact check” (though it’s really a short history) of the comment (though the Bottom Line is … no comment):

At the peak of his influence, Moses was more powerful than any mayor or governor, even though he was not elected. Caro’s book, published in 1974, is mostly a study of power and how power corrupts, depicting the transformation of an idealist reformer into a tyrant who created slums and destroyed communities without remorse. The 1,200-page book, a feat of astonishing reporting and writing, is generally regarded as one of the 100 greatest works of nonfiction. It destroyed Moses’s reputation and shaped how people think about his legacy.

Caro also cast Moses as a racist who made it harder for people of color to visit his properties. Buttigieg referenced one of the book’s most famous anecdotes, which appears on pages 318 and 319.

This section of the book concerns the construction of one of Moses’s greatest achievements, Jones Beach State Park, which opened in 1929. Moses also constructed parkways, such as Southern State Parkway, in the 1920s that took people to the beach.

The complicated (and unexpected imo) history of Cuban bread by Ashley Rodriguez (for Taste), includes this interesting detail:

Huse notes that Cubans don’t really have a history of making their own bread at home. Nitza Villapol, author of Cuba’s most iconic cookbook, Cocina al Minuto, even encouraged cooks to buy bread at bakeries. “I talked to a lot of Cubans who used their ovens for storage,” says Huse. “In Ybor City, Italian immigrants made their own bread. But in Cuba, the idea of firing up your oven to make bread in the tropics was repellent, so Cubans never made their own bread.”

Best drag performance I’ve seen in a while. Bob the Drag Queen is a true original:

The judge at the Kyle Rittenhouse trial (he’s accused of killing two and injuring one protester in Wisconsin last year) sounds very very special:

Judge Schroeder’s phone rings in the middle of the Rittenhouse trial. It’s Trump’s walk-on song, “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood. pic.twitter.com/iTEkzL4v8q

— The Recount (@therecount) November 10, 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse pulls a Brett Kavanaugh this week, but boy is this comment good:

This is what happens when white kids read Toni Morrison novels https://t.co/D2T8EBhS9V

— Michael Harriot (@michaelharriot) November 10, 2021

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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