home Must Reads Must reads: Crime, media, death, family histories, craft culture

Must reads: Crime, media, death, family histories, craft culture


Good morning, gentle readers! Let’s plunge in to some of our favourite longform this week!

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Global Comment podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud and catch up on the first episode, a fascinating interview with Omar Saif Ghobash.

Wrong Way‘ (Lisa Gartner and Zachary T. Sampson for the Tampa Bay Times)

This is an interesting, thoughtful read on a hard life, family struggles, and crime.

Police would call some of them gang members, but Isaiah says they took care of him. He took showers at their houses and ate dinners at their tables. If he needed money, they could lend him some.

“We won’t let nobody be broke,” Isaiah explains. “I don’t call it a gang. I just call it a family.”

And everybody in this family stole cars.

How SB Nation Profits Off An Army Of Exploited Workers‘ (Laura Wagner for Deadspin)

In a world where content is king and pay is low, exploitation is par for the course. This is a great deep read on how largely unpaid and undercompensated labour props up a media empire.

Deadspin spoke to more than a dozen current and former site managers and SB Nation editor-in-chief Elena Bergeron and general manager Kevin Lockland, in addition to two labor lawyers, and found that SB Nation appears to be a system that, despite claims to being driven by passion, is driven by business imperatives; that offers little daily editorial guidance beyond deleting and apologizing for the racist, misogynistic, homophobic, or otherwise unacceptable posts that occasionally appear; that potentially exists in a legal gray area; and that is run by executives willing to go to great lengths to justify a business model that exploits thousands of poorly paid men and women.

In the future, your body won’t be buried… you’ll dissolve‘ (Hayley Campbell for Wired UK)

Curious about the future of death? Here it is.

He’s gushing like it’s a car on a game show. It is one of only three in the United States, and not commercially legal in California. He’s removed the stainless- steel panels to reveal the inner workings, all the pipes and machinery that are neatly tucked away. Bodies go in through the same circular steel door that the British Ministry of Defence uses on its nuclear-class submarines. “It’s great, isn’t it?” he says, beaming behind his glasses. “Oh man, it’s just the best!” Fisher has the kind of personality you can’t help feeling is wasted on the dead.

Lord of the WASPs‘ (Emily Eakin for VQR)

This is a fascinating and complex exploration of family and cultural identity.

But for my parents, doing the work themselves had become a point of pride: an island compelled self-sufficiency. Assembling a bed out of foraged materials displayed resourcefulness; buying one in Toronto and ferrying it out by boat suggested a lack not just of imagination but of character. “I gain’d a different Knowledge from what I had before,” Crusoe says in his fourth year as a castaway, newly pious and self-reliant. “I look’d now upon the World as a Thing remote, which I had nothing to do with, no Expectation from, and indeed no Desires about.”

The White Lies of Craft Culture‘ (Lauren Michele Jackson for Eater)

The world of ‘artisanal culture’ has dark roots that no one wants to talk about.

These techniques and the goods they produce do have origins, specific ones rooted in history and in people. The character of craft culture, a special blend of bohemianism and capitalism, is not merely overwhelmingly white — a function of who generally has the wealth to start those microbreweries and old-school butcher shops, and to patronize them — it consistently engages in the erasure or exploitation of people of color whose intellectual and manual labor are often the foundation of the practices that transform so many of these small pleasures into something artful. A lie by omission may be a small one, but for a movement so vocally concerned with where things come from, the proprietors of craft culture often seem strangely uninterested in learning or conveying the stories of the people who first mastered those crafts.

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Photo: Mack Male/Creative Commons