Are You On Team Martha?

Emily M. Keeler is a writer and the editor of...

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One of my favourite elements of the Slate Book Review is the author-editor interview. (Having sat in both seats myself, I’m reminded of the comedian Fred Allen, who, after editors put in their demands for changes, would blurt, “Where were you bastards when the pages were blank?” I first heard about that joke from a Maria Bustillo’s piece celebrating her former editor and colleague at The Awl last year.) This month’s edition is an extra delight, featuring a conversation on writing, pulp, and origin stories between New York Times Magazine Culture Editor and newly minted novelist Adam Sternbergh, and Zack Wagman, who edited Sternbergh’s first novel, Shovel Ready, at Crown. I love how they urge themselves out of using the word “genre” when discussing the book, which is a kind of hard-boiled mystery set in the not too distant future. Instead, they propose a vigorous celebration of pulp as a sensibility rather than formula.

Now, who is here to make friends? Thankfully, not Roxane Gay. I like her anyway.

Five days ago in New Mexico, a woman who was once married to a man who may have penned “the scariest passage in all of literature” was arrested for threatening her current boyfriend with a handgun. Afraid for his life, the man grabbed the gun out of her hands and, apparently, threw it in the toilet. Previous to her hands and the toilet, the gun had been inside her vagina. The police statement on probable cause reports that she asked her man, “Who is crazy, you or me?” (I don’t think she’s here to make friends, either.)

Martha Stewart, everybody, puts a lot of gunk on her face. Her beauty regimen appears in The New York Times today, which, LOL. (The writer Jane Hu’s beauty regimen also appears today, at The Hairpin, if you’re interested in more than just giggling at Martha Stewart.) Stewart’s so frequently characterized as unlikable; she’s always been a woman who is just too much. And so I’m on Team Martha, forever, even in the surprisingly clear complected face of Goop.

Sure, let’s update the Bechdel test, whatever keeps Emma Thompson and Meryl Streep in the same room. Okay?


A New Test for the Emergency Broadcast System
American telecom giant AT&T proposed something this week that is almost certainly dead on arrival: the reincarnation of Ma Bell thought it would be just swell if advertisers and other businesses could pay for the wireless data its customers use for certain apps. Want to watch streaming video on your phone, but don’t want to pay for the digital mileage? No worries there, NBC would be happy to pay for your viewing time—provided, one imagines, they get at least some access to the treasure trove of information on the average person’s smartphone. Even if it didn’t raise privacy concerns, AT&T ’s idea is likely to be torpedoed by the US Federal Communications Commission for the good enough reason that it would put a massive hole in the already leaky concept of “net neutrality,” the idea that the digital domain works best when its biggest players can’t buy their way to static dominance. Whatever the future of AT&T ’s proposal (and there may be a version that’s less offensive to American regulators out there), it illustrates one of the fundamental differences between the digital world we’ve built since the 1990s and the analog systems that preceded it: classic TV or radio is an all-you-can-eat affair, because the channel was always open and nobody was metering how much you watched. This was partly a function of technology, but also a function of business model: TV users didn’t have to pay, because advertisers already were. AT&T isn’t inventing some novel evil here.


||Julianne Moore in the Todd Haynes film Safe
The First World Problem
Across the world, generally speaking, the higher the GDP , the higher the incidence of anxiety. So why are wealthy, prosperous nations so damn neurotic?