Filthy Rich by Michelle Dean
HBO’s Succession was amusing and sharp-elbowed in its first season. For the recently concluded second season, the series engaged a creative turbo boost that rocketed it to delirious new heights. Writing for The New York Times, Michelle Dean shrewdly analyzes the base appeal of the show’s gladiatorial bouts between conniving tycoons. She also pinpoints the true brilliance of Succession as its accurate cynicism about the likelihood of real justice against the wealthy narcissists who carelessly toss around obscene amounts of money in their efforts to build and cling to power. Dean’s closes the article — and her argument — with an observation that is pure, simple perfection.
The Beautiful One by Dan Piepenbring
As I’ve acknowledged before, I usually come to New Yorker articles several weeks after publication, and therefore well after they’ve made the social media rounds. So forgive me if my timing seems astray. Dan Piepenbring writes about his experience as the hired co-writer of Prince’s planned memoir, recounting the unreal feelings that came with being drawn into the icon’s orbit. In Piepenbring’s rendering, Prince is beyond fascinating: clearly brilliant (he often seems to be barely keeping up with his own mercurial mind), sweetly generous, committed to maintaining authority over his own work, and deeply self-protective. As much as any other remembrance, this article makes me feel the profound loss of Prince.
This news article from The New York Times details the case of Eric Pizer, a Wisconsinite military veteran who became the first person in nearly a decade to receive a pardon from the governor. Although the framing of the story emphasizes that Pizer only threw one punch in the incident that led to a felony conviction, reporter Dan Barry doesn’t diminish the consequences. The person of the receiving end of Pizer’s blow endured two surgeries to his broken nose, still has trouble breathing, and suffers from migraines. And yet Pizer emerges as a convincing example proving the dismal state of the broader U.S. justice system. He’s worked hard to make amends for a singular incident, seemingly building a respectable life out of hard work and earnest attempts to simply do better. The felony on his record stood as a practically insurmountable wall, and it stayed in place in part because the state’s actively idiotic Republican governor decided he wasn’t going to pardon anyone — not a single person — throughout his entire tenure. Presumably meant as a proof he was “tough on crime,” the practice instead ignored the reality that systems are fallible and occasionally merit. More to the point, the pardon moratorium is part of the ongoing, mostly right wing–driven fetishizing of incarceration that has created a desperately broken approach that incubates criminality rather than creates a pathway to rehabilitation. A few weeks ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was maliciously mocked for her comments on the need for wholesale reform of the U.S. prison system, but, as has usually been the case, she was was completely correct. We’re doing justice wrong.