Casablance Happy-Hacker and the Burgundy Room

A few things I've liked recently...

but to start, a few things I've liked for a while. I wrote a piece on All About Lily Chou Chou—one of my favorite films—for Filmmaker magazine. It is, in my mind, the best movie made about the internet. (In the beforetimes, I wanted to screen a little film series to go along with the release of Lurking, which didn't end up happening but needless to say this would have been part of it and The Net would have been part of it too).

I also really like email and I wrote about why that is for the Guardian. The tldr verision: you own your email/there's no Zuckerberg of email/what you actually hate about email is work. (Funny thing is there was a miscommunication over email and my first draft went up instead of an edited version. I might have cleaned up several lines otherwise so it's not my most polished work on a sentence level but whatever. My argument is all there: email is good, work is bad).

Another thing I wrote recently was for Technology Review on science fiction novels set in real cities. My favorite being The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again. (This one is behind the paywall but I'm happy to share a pdf copy, if you'd like).

I finally saw, which means I finally read Inherent Vice (I'd put it off, until I'd read the novel, and just kept putting off reading the novel.) Oh, it's great. "Thinks he's hallucinating" might be one of my all time favorites lines of dialogue, and cool, lanky, spacey Katherine Waterstone really delivers it.

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I thought this piece about Black culture creators and who accesses culture industries was really smart. There was a fascinating conversation about the article on the Bad Faith podcast which complicates the ideas a little further. If you only have a little bit of time, check out at 12:15 minutes in, where Damon Young points out that creating culture is happening—without the prestige and resources—on Twitter and TikTok.

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I have no idea what I'm doing at the moment or how I'm doing. I finished one big project recently and I'm in the early stages of another. I had plans to get to London around now, but I put it off until the fall and now I'm not sure when it will be a sensible to go. I also plan to get to San Francisco at some point for a much shorter visit. I’m really really going to go nuts if I end up stuck in New England for another season (and it looks like that's what might happen after all!)

Something I was thinking about the other day was how the constant pressure to write about science fiction as prescient ("Novel X predicted everything happening now!") has unfortunately led to critical writing that fails to engage with a novel in its own historical context. I should probably write about this (and by the time I do I'll be better at explaining what I mean). Anyway, I was thinking this about Ballard's novels published near the turn of the turn of the millennium. His work largely came to attention after his death in 2009 which means the angle is usually "look at this prescient author!" rather than, "there was an extremely weird energy happening around 2000 and looking back on it will help you better appreciate what's outstanding about those novels and yes it might also explain some weirdness in our time too."

I kinda liked TJ Newman's Falling which I picked up because of this interview where she returns to her old stomping ground at LAX and points to a Boeing 777 in the air: "Look at her. She's gorgeous." It’s very nerdy about the workings of a plane and it is a pageturner even if there’s a lot about the novel does not work (characterization of the hijackers was a big yikes).

Censor is the best movie I've seen all year and might be the best movie I'll see all year. Smart, daring, all of that. What could have been just nostalgia and pastiche actually goes somewhere new. Reminded me a little bit of Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen (in a good way). I'm excited to see where Prano Bailey-Bond goes from here.

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The title of this newsletter comes from this delightful list of LA nightclubs from an old phonebook from the 40s.

Thanks for reading.

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