1. “Yoko Ono and the Myth That Deserves to Die.” Lindsay Zoladz on how she came to love the most hated woman in the world.
“What’s most troubling about my Wish Tree memory is not what the boy wrote but that I laughed at it. Back then, I didn’t feel any need to defend Ono—if anything, I wanted to position myself apart from what I thought she represented. I bought the Yoko Myth wholesale. The only received images I could conjure of her were ones in which she was tied to John: Here she is sitting silently at the Let It Be sessions as Paul fumes; there she is entwined with her man in the famous Annie Leibovitz picture. I still considered her name an insult—the woman who won’t let the boys have their fun. In my early 20s, it felt important to let men believe that I wasn’t like that. I hated all the parts of myself that could be perceived as co-dependent or excessively feminine. I was terrified of vulnerability because I thought it could exist only at the expense of independence. I thought I knew what a feminist was. I thought I knew about Yoko Ono. I had a lot to learn.”
2. “What Do Prison Families Think of Hillary’s Promises About Mass Incarceration?” For The Intercept, Liliana Segura on Clinton’s recent vow and how it means rolling back policies that her husband put into place.
“To hear what it takes to win even incremental reforms in a single locale—then try to multiply the need across the vast map of US prisons and jails—was to begin to see the contours of mass incarceration on its true, horrifying scale. It also helped explain the disconnect between the conference and the presidential race: For decades, ’tough on crime’ policies—under Reagan, under Clinton—passed easily, rapidly creating a prison system of unprecedented proportions. The damage will be much, much harder to undo. Much of it—in collective trauma, in ruined lives—cannot be undone. And even a president who is completely sincere about curbing mass incarceration would have limited means to do so. Dismantling specific policies will require new legislation—most of it at the state level. Federal prisons account for only a fraction of the incarcerated population. And prosecutors still wield enormous power to decide who goes to prison, for how long.”
3. “I Put in White Tenants.” The grim, racist (and likely illegal) methods of one Brooklyn landlord.
“He lowers his voice again: If there’s a black tenant in the house—in every building we have, I put in white tenants. They want to know if black people are going to be living there. So sometimes we have ten apartments and everything is white, and then all of the sudden one tenant comes in with one black roommate, and they don’t like it. They see black people and get all riled up, they call me: ’We’re not paying that much money to have black people live in the building.’ If it’s white tenants only, it’s clean. I know it’s a little bit racist but it’s not. They’re the ones that are paying and I have to give them what they want. Or I’m not going to get the tenants and the money is not going to be what it is.”
4. “End Game: TV’s Best and Worst Series Finales.” From Lost to The Sopranos, these are last episodes that got it right—and very, very wrong.
“Two questions hovered over Breaking Bad’s ending: Would Walt die? (He did.) And would he find redemption? (Thankfully, he did.) Although the show often chronicled its everyman’s boundless cunning and ruthless ambition, the finale—’Felina’—presented the long-awaited consequences, doled out with grim, compelling inevitability. As played with quiet ferocity by Bryan Cranston, Walt had long ago become a bastard whose soul wasn’t worth saving. But that fact didn’t make this last act any less moving: As the curtain fell, he figured out how to rescue those closest to himself while, at last, coming to terms with the realization that he’d been the one who’d endangered them in the first place.”
5. “Telling the Story of Civil Rights.” Taylor Branch, Ta-Nehisi Coates, David Simon, and James McBride discuss the Baltimore protests, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, and bringing America in the King Years to HBO.
“For all of the writers, this look at the margins helped them to avoid what Simon called ’marble men,’ those larger-than-life figures whose stories are already fixed firm in history books and other film projects. But they have also tried to break through the marble, looking for the imperfections that let those historic figures become human. They told the story of when Branch brought Harry Belafonte into the writing room. (’I knew this was a bad idea,’ Coates said.) Simon described how they explained to Belafonte what they wanted. ’The drama’s going to take care of itself,’ they told him. ’The stuff we need to get through this are the lighter moments, the comedy.’”
Video of the Day: The music video for Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea’s “Pretty Girls”:
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