The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘BP Oil spill’

Dirty Books, Greek Travels, Oily Birds

June 25, 2010 | by

Boy Reading, by Thomas Pollack Anshutz.

I am eternally that girl who guys want to be friends with, and I am fed up with it. Where can I turn to help me with my predicament? And don't say Jane Austen.
—Jessica, New York City

I wasn’t going to say Jane Austen! I find her deeply, deeply depressing. Maybe you feel the same. If you want to read a genteel English novel where the perpetual “friend” gets the upper hand, try The Tortoise and the Hare, by Elizabeth Jenkins. (Jenkins also wrote a biography of Austen, but you can skip that.) You might get a vicarious kick out of Dawn Powell’s 1942 satire of New York media people, A Time to Be Born. Another tale of a friend triumphant. It sounds, though, as if you may be in the market for a seduction manual. I’ve never read one that rang true, sorry to say. Instead it seems to me one should probably read dirty books—starting with something outrageous and perverse, like Bataille’s Story of the Eye—if only because these books, the really dirty ones, give a person courage when she (or he) feels unsexed. They may help you acknowledge your awkward or forbidden feelings toward those guys, even at the risk of rejection. If you’re fed up, as you say, it’s time to act!

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Watching the Oil Spill

June 14, 2010 | by

Dear Lorin,

It’s strange that, right as you confer on me the undeserved (but I hope not wasted) honor of Southern Editorship, this region would reclaim its hold on the American imagination. I refer to the underwater live feed of the oil leak. Are you watching it? Down here we do little else. I made these notes on the experience. They may not be appropriate for the new blog. You said on the phone, if I remember, that you wanted to cover “the intersection of culture and everyday life.” But the leak has simply overpowered culture, to the extent that anything happening in that department now assumes a ghoulish cast.

You can feel the other millions of people watching, especially late at night, and at times there has even been a Lincoln’s Death Train quality to this thing, a sense of shared, and deliberately prolonged, mass shock.

On YouTube, collections have formed of people’s favorite moments from the feed, sequences they found beautiful, or ones that appear to support a theory they developed about something BP did and lied about.

When something odd occurs in the frame—when three orange sponge-looking objects float by, for example, or when a striped tube-shaped thing rises up at the left and vanishes into the oil—there’s this reflex to call out to the others, and verify that they’ve seen it.

One clip going around shows an eel that swims up to the plume and hangs out for a few seconds, like, What the . . .

It looks as if they’ve somehow beamed a Victorian-era smokestack to the bottom of the ocean, and it’s billowing brown ash.

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