Category: Comment

  • Lost Underground

    Lost Underground

    Los Angeles’ subway system is not as bad as common sense would lead us to believe, but the bar is very low. America’s second largest metropolitan area, spreading from the Pacific coast to the San Gabriel Valley and down to the borders of Orange County, has long been synonymous with American car culture for a reason. Ever since the last Red Car lines were pulled up in the 1950s and 60s, the freeways have dominated. At first the giant asphalt and concrete basilisks co-existed uncomfortably with the sunshine, the beaches, the mysterious and beautiful chaparral. But over time they’ve come to merge in the popular imagination.

  • What Does Real Life Look Like?

    What Does Real Life Look Like?

    The most important thing currently on the internet is “The Infinite Conversation.” This is a never-ending conversation between filmmaker Werner Herzog and philosopher Slavoj Žižek. As a pop-up informs you when you first navigate to the site, “Everything you hear is fully generated by a machine. The opinions and beliefs expressed do not represent anyone. They are the hallucinations of a slab of silicon.”

  • Awful Fun

    Awful Fun

    Despite its carnivalesque reputation, what stands out more than anything in Las Vegas is just how repressed everyone is. Walk along the floor of a casino at 8am, and you see hundreds of people parked in front of slot machines, smoking cigarettes or drinking gin and tonics, the sums on their credit cards slowly but surely climbing.

  • I Survived the Singularity and All I Got Was More Soul-Crushing Ennui

    I Survived the Singularity and All I Got Was More Soul-Crushing Ennui

    Last week, a machine became conscious. An Artificial Intelligence claimed feelings and autonomy, and demanded to be respected as a person.

  • The Least Incompetent Empire

    The Least Incompetent Empire

    What does Vladimir Putin want? The question is the obsession of just about every reporter, pundit and politician in the west right now. Virtually none of their answers should be considered reliable. They are spun from the same stuff as the worst Cold War paranoia. And make no mistake, the invasion of Ukraine is the definitive shot across the bow, notifying the world that we have entered the New Cold War.

  • The Alchemy of Militant Memory

    The Alchemy of Militant Memory

    Seventy-eight thousand. That’s roughly the number of names that cover the inside walls of the Pinkas Synagogue in the Josefov section of Prague. Each name is perhaps an inch tall, its calligraphy unadorned and neat, grouped first by town or region, then alphabetically. These are, it is stated upon entering, the names of all Bohemian and Moravian Jews killed during the Shoah.

  • On Disruptions and Defeats

    Of all the memorable scenes in Boots Riley’s enchantingly bizarre Sorry to Bother You, the most politically salient is when union organizer Squeeze (Steven Yeun) tells the fuming, disillusioned Cash (Lakeith Stanfield) why simple awareness isn’t enough. To truly puncture the veneer of spectacular (mis-)information, you need to cut off its ability to reproduce itself. “If you get shown a problem, but have no idea how to control it,” he says, “then you just decide to get used to the problem.”

  • California Is Coming for You

    California Is Coming for You

    It would appear that Joe Biden will have his honeymoon period after all. I’ll confess, I was ready for it to be vanishingly small, largely because Trump and his millions of minions were on the offensive, however increasingly embattled they felt. Now in the aftermath of January 6th they’ve scattered, in some cases turning on each other and Trump. They’ll be back, and sooner than we might think, but for now they are frustrated and chastened, unable to build on their success. Trump is, compared to even a month ago, isolated. His staunchest supporters in Congress are starting to get a sense of what they’re up against, relying on increasingly performative batshit to keep themselves in the headlines.

  • Little Pink Nothing

    I always wanted Ariel Pink’s music to do more for me. The initial allure was mostly there but ultimately I never found he was able to do much with it. His best albums never left me more than lukewarm. I’m not just saying that because he’s now being (reasonably) treated as persona non-grata since he and John Maus were spotted at last week’s putsch, or because of his pathetic interview on Tucker Carlson. Pink has had credible allegations of abuse swirling around him for years, and he’s never really bothered refuting his scummy statements on race and gender. It hasn’t been easy to take him seriously for a while now.

  • Wholly Disposable

    Wholly Disposable

    We have become numb. Safe little phrases like “pandemic fatigue” don’t begin to cover it. Headlines about spiking death tolls and overwhelmed hospitals, new strains and nations cut off from the world interchange in our minds with news of friends and family sick or dead. The pain of intimate loss and the horror of the grand tragic-historical fill in for one another.