Electricity & Lust

Reads of the Week

Posted in Reads of the Week by Sam Unsted on August 13, 2011

A quick note. Apologies for the lack of posting still. A couple of things in the works at the moment so time has been difficult to find. I intend to get back onto a pretty good posting schedule again very, very soon.

  • Not really a very long read, but Chuck Klosterman manages to nail so much of why Louie is the best show on TV at the minute in his piece for Grantland. In other news, please ensure you follow Grantland as it’s probably my favourite new site of the year.
  • The original article, from New York Magazine, which coined the Brat Pack moniker for that group of actors in the 1980s. Quite illuminating, especially with the consistent arguing that it would be Sean Penn, never really though of as a Brat Pack member, who would transcend that generation.
  • A four-part study (Part One, Two, Three and Four) of the creation of the Unabomber, specifically as regards the role of Harvard in fostering personality traits which would eventually make him infamous.
  • Cameron Crowe’s 1973 article on The Allman Brothers, surely one of the inspirations that went into Almost Famous.
  • One of my absolute favourite writers, Alex Ross, moves away from his inspired classical music pieces to pen an absorbing essay about Oscar Wilde.
  • But the best of the week is the GQ oral history of the Dana Carvey Show, the swifty-cancelled mid-90s folly which comprised some amazing talent and has worn really well. At the time though, the outre sketches were far from at-home following Home Improvement on the Disney-owned ABC. Just to give a taster, the writing team alone included Dino Stamotopoulos, Robert Smigel and Louis CK, and this doesn’t go into the on-screen talent, which included the likes of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. Watching it now, from the opening sketch (from CK’s mind) of Bill Clinton breast-feeding puppies, you struggle to believe this show was on primetime network TV. Watch the first episode here and marvel.

Reads of the Week

Posted in Reads of the Week by Sam Unsted on June 18, 2011
  • Not an article, but I finished reading The Big Short by Michael Lewis this week and would thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in how the financial services industry created and ultimately caused the downturn we are all suffering through. I was on a bit of a financial crash kick this week as I also read an article about the value investor Bob Rodriguez – who says that a failure to address current debt levels will result in another crash in the near future – and watched the very dry must mostly entertaining Too Big to Fail, the HBO adaptation of the Andrew Ross Sorkin book. It recounts the moves and mistakes made by federal regulators in attempting to contain the financial crash by bailing out the banks and mostly just serves, as Lewis’ book does, in teaching that the crash was a long time coming and that the mistakes made at the time were nothing compared to the institutional incompetence and greed in the years leading up to it.
  • The death of Gil Scott-Heron a couple of weeks ago meant this article, by Alec Wilkinson for The New Yorker in 2010, got a lot of play. It’s a pretty interesting portrait of a man who appears uncomfortable with the legacy afforded him and serves as an illustration of the dangers and destructive nature of crack addiction.
  • This 1993 article by Michael Kelly about the political operator David Gergen is incredibly absorbing and more than a little frightening. The meat comes during Gergen’s time working in the Nixon administration and the path that American political life was set upon under which image and the projection of persona became the entire game.
  • Tom Bissell’s lengthy review of LA Noire, the smash-hit new Rockstar game, turns into an existential journey in the mind of a gamer and is a satisfying dissection of the shift seen in games over the past few years into an immersive, controversial art form. The article is also from Grantland, the new site headed up by Bill Simmons, which might well be the best website launched in the past year.
  • The New Yorker has three great essays in the new issue, respectively from Jennifer Egan, Tea Obreht and Jhumpa Lahiri.
And the best…
  • It’s a couple of weeks old now but this article, from the New York Times Magazine, about conjoined twins potentially sharing a mind, is utterly incredible. I don’t want to spend too much time giving reasons to read it, but it’s worth it just for the anecdotes alone of the apparent connection which appears to exist between the two subjects.

Reads of the Week

Posted in Reads of the Week by Sam Unsted on June 11, 2011

First of a new feature. We’ll do this every week just to highlight anything that we really enjoyed from the past week. We’ll try and do the same with links on a Sunday.

  • ‘They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?’ by Susanna Breslin. A self-published look at porn valley amid the recession. Some pretty heartwrenching anecdotes and stories which prevent the sometimes unfocused story from becoming too muddled or collapsing into titillation. It should be said, as with most stories about the porn industry, there is absolutely nothing titillating about this piece.
  • ‘Murder Most Yale’ by Suzanna Andrews. Fascinating examination of the murder of Yale student Suzanne Jovin from Vanity Fair in 1999. Somewhat dry in places and without the kind of engaging cache inherent in its subject to draw you in, as other stories of this genre have, this is still interesting and frustating, from the point of view of unsolvedness, in equal measure.
  • ‘Take it Like a Man’ by Kate Christensen. Perceptive essay on women writing in the male voice, something Christensen has done in all three of her books.
  • ‘Dizzying Highs and Terrifying Lows’ by Bill Simmons. Simmons, on his fantastic new Grantland website, takes the NBA to task on its need to adapt and develop its model in the face of financial difficulties and capitalise on the captivating NBA finals taking place right now.

And the best…

‘Basta Bunga Bunga’ by Ariel Levy. Absorbing, critical investigation of the impact Silvio Berlusconi has had on Italy and, in particular, Italian women. Packed to the gills with telling and surprising anecdotes about the Italian PM and sparked by his ongoing Bunga Bunga scandal, this is honestly amongst the best pieces of writing I have seen all year.