I watched The X-Files growing up, and my boyfriend had never seen them, so we’re watching them now. It’s funny, some of the episodes I remember being in love with, when I watch them now they’re not that good. But ... David Duchovny is so attractive that I really don’t care. It’s always the same thing, regardless of what happens, Scully’s always the skeptic. It doesn’t matter what happens to her or what she sees. It’s kind of a ridiculous show, actually. But some of the things they show ... they clearly did a lot of research, I can tell. With certain plotlines they know what they’re doing; I’ve read about or have books about some of the same stuff, and I’m like, Okay, that’s true, people do believe that. They put some effort into it, but it’s so flawed at the same time.
This year, one death and at least 15 injuries were reported across America as shoppers trampled over, slapped, and head-butted each other to score sweet Black Friday deals. So, what did you, the people of the Internet, make of all this retail chaos?
Peter Kaplan, the steward of a generation of snappy upstart journalists, has died of cancer. A fixture in New York’s increasingly fluid media world, Kaplan was a rare gem—at the helm of the New York Observer he brought together a cabal of young journalists and editors who went on to do great, weird things all over the field. With the news of his death, the Observer republished Kaplan’s obituary for his mentor, the great Clay Felker, founding editor of New York Magazine, to give us a sense of the man behind the man behind the myth.
Just in time for Hanukkah, our inaugural print edition arrives in stores across Canada and beyond. Hazlitt No. 1 collects some of the greatest hits and seminal tracks previously published on the website alongside newly commissioned work. It’s a one-of-a-kind, handsomely art-directed, perfect-bound journal that mixes art, photography, and literature with pop culture, politics, and design.
Highlights from Hazlitt No. 1 include: a look at Sheila Heti’s book collection (“Sheila Heti’s Rabbit Eats Books”); original poetry from Patricia Lockwood (“Nessie Wants to Watch Herself Doing It”); Michael Winter on love and the idea of a dangerous life; an interview with George Saunders (“George Saunders Battles Bitterness with Bogeymen”); and a new Tabloid Fiction from Billie Livingston on an Oxycontin epidemic. We also visit Joseph and Amanda Boyden at their home in New Orleans, and eavesdrop on Lucky Peach editor Peter Meehan as he talks shop with fellow cookbook authors Naomi Duguid, Jennifer McLagan, and Meredith Erickson.
Everyone has at least one shitty relative they don’t want to spend time with at a family gathering. Your activist niece who thinks she can cure world famine with a 35-hour hunger strike. Your grandmother who hates your haircut and wants to tell you about it. Your aunt-by-marriage who lingers too close to your face, bitterly telling you how you’ve grown up so … nicely.
This morning, suspended Canadian senator Patrick Brazeau tweeted, “My CV:Sen of Canada,Nat’t Chief of CAP, Cdn Armed Forces, many other Honourable jobs. I’m 4 hire b/c Harper suspended me!” If he’s looking for work, we’ve compiled a list of jobs that he might be qualified for as a former member of the most useless faction in Canadian government.
When Canada’s pandas arrived last year, they were met on the airport tarmac by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, various dignitaries, and an orchestra of Canadian children playing sweet music in their honour. The bears reacted exactly the way a panda reacts to most anything that happens in its vicinity—by sitting, blinking, chewing on bamboo, and looking blankly into the middle-distance. People whooped, cameras flashed. This is how celebrity works: your every snack and bewildered yawn becomes noteworthy.
The arrival was the culmination of years of political haggling—the panda dreams of prime ministers from Trudeau onwards at last made flesh. According to a recent study in the journal Environmental Practice by three researchers from the University of Oxford, it also marked the beginning of the newest phase in China’s “panda diplomacy,” the term used to describe the country’s practice of gifting adorable bears to countries in order to build strategic friendships.
Rob Ford has done one thing for Toronto with greater success than arguably any mayor before him—that is, convulse the city’s left in a discussion about whatever are we to do with the suburbs. Somehow, he’s convinced a large number of people that his base is actually the suburban working class, which is a bizarre state of affairs indeed because why don’t they understand how wrong he is?
As the temperature dips, I find myself thinking mostly about bodies and heat. Something about snow makes me crave spice, and I’m not the only one, not by a long shot. Even here at Hazlitt there’s a renewed interest in getting under the covers—you’ve already listened to the latest (sexiest?) episode of The Arcade podcast, right?
Last weekend, the People’s Republic of China announced that it was going to start enforcing what it called an “Air Defense Identification Zone,” requiring aircraft to file flight plans and identify their radio and transponder frequencies. So what’s the big deal? The ADIZ—because no mere mortals love anything the way militaries love their acronyms—occupies the waters of the East China Sea between Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. It also overlaps with separate ADIZes (?) claimed by Japan and South Korea.
Or, by the time you read this, it might be more appropriate to say “overlapped,” because the United States Air Force promptly flew a pair of (unarmed) B-52s through the Chinese zone, in a gesture international treaties formally describe as “were you sitting here? Yeah, I didn’t think so. There’s your coat.” Japanese airlines, which were initially obeying the Chinese diktat, have changed their mind as global capitals have asked Beijing if it wouldn’t mind not being such a prat. So, as far as the rules go, this may be a short-lived example of obstreperousness from the mainland.
A lot of my books are still in Vancouver. When I went to McGill I moved a lot of my books with me, and I had the painful experience of moving back west with them. So I decided I wouldn’t do that again until I found my forever home. So other than say, 10 books, these are all books I’ve gotten in the last year and a half. I’ve read, I think, 90 percent. So this is actually a really good, condensed look at my reading life over the last year and a bit. Some Julian Barnes, some comedy.
Over the last few weeks, Canadians who pay even the vaguest attention to politics have been forced into an extended meditation on the concept of shame. How does it feel, really? Can we catalogue its infinite shades and varieties? And, most urgently, what happens in its total absence?
It seems impossible, but does Stephen Harper really not feel a twinge of embarrassment standing in front of parliament, furiously avoiding questions from MPs while trotting out hapless mopes like Paul Calandra? How does someone like Mike Duffy, who seems to have tried to charge taxpayers for meals he ate at home, manage to summon so much righteous indignation? And then, of course, there’s Rob Ford, who, during the council meeting that stripped him of some of his mayoral powers, mimed drinking and driving, bowled over a female colleague, and ventured over to the gallery to mock the taxpayers he claims to love so dearly. “Shame! Shame!” the gallery shouted. Ford didn’t respond, as if the word were a foreign concept in a language he couldn’t possibly understand.
Comedy fans around the world rejoiced last week when the surviving members of legendary sketch troupe Monty Python announced they’d be reuniting and performing a series of shows next year in London. CNN commenter PeriSoft celebrated the news...
Though I’ll never have the opportunity to feature Mordecai Richler in a Shelf Esteem column, this note on his cottage library—all 5,000 books which were recently acquired by Concordia—comes pretty close. The Richler reading room will not feature a lending library. Fitting, given how the man himself said, “Don’t lend books—you’ll never see them again.”
Early on in Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, the boxer pointedly reminds us exactly what he is: “I’m that guy who used to knock motherfuckers out in 30 seconds,” he tells the crowd. The crowd, dutifully, erupts in raucous cheers.
It’s not like anyone coming to the 90-minute HBO movie based on a Broadway show doesn’t know who Mike Tyson is, but the fact that he needs to remind us at the outset feels pretty indicative of the strange path he’s found himself on since those more consistently violent days. Despite putting on a performance about his own life and times, those of a notoriously unhinged boxer, the Tyson we see on stage is an altogether different beast. After that knockout comment, he calls himself “domesticated now”; a better word might be stage-managed, in ways that resonate far beyond his actual stripped-down show.
Ironclad rules are pretty rare in international relations, but here’s a solid bet: any day where the prospect of a crisis with Iran recedes is a good one, and this weekend we got one of those. The six major powers negotiating with Iran to halt the expansion of its uranium enrichment got a six-month agreement that, it’s hoped, will be the first step towards a more comprehensive negotiation.
The agreement itself is notable mainly for the fact that it exists, rather than for its particulars. Iran will get to keep its currently operating centrifuges, and will be allowed to enrich uranium up to the five percent threshold—enough for electricity generation, but not weapons manufacture. The reaction in Washington has been uniformly critical, as Republicans revert to their natural posture of preferring to bomb anywhere with minarets.
Kanye’s ridiculous, wonderful music video for “Bound 2” came out several days ago, but I can’t stop watching or thinking about it. Here are a dozen quick cuts.
1. Between the oversaturated wildlife and Charlie Wilson’s regally disembodied voice I almost expected a Disney number to break out. Kanye and Kim, rising aloft on interlocked eagles.
2. The green-screen aesthetic also puts me in mind of cutscenes from some old PlayStation RPG—those horses galloping towards the camera could be the opening frames of a Final Fantasy IX summon. It’s like a New Age sleep-aid CD given life.
If you’re reading this, the odds are good that at least two-thirds of your government is under criminal investigation. Between Toronto, London, Montreal, Ontario, and, as we learned this week, Canada, if you live east of Winnipeg then congratulations, basically every level of your elected representation is facing some kind of suspicion, and that’s not even counting the wingnuttery from the PQ in Quebec City.
The crazy thing is, this is good news. The RCMP still feels it’s sufficiently independent to investigate the PMO. The OPP still feels sufficiently independent to investigate the Premier. And the Toronto Police are, famously, still confident enough in their independence that they can investigate the Mayor. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has not, as of this writing, resigned in disgrace.
Perhaps I’m no better than Will Ferrell, because for the past few weeks it seems the first part of this column has been given over to Rob Ford. It’s not because I’m promoting anything, or because I...
Date a girl who reads: whether said as a plea, a command, a suggestion or an aspiration, it’s become a routine truism in certain corners of the Internet. One might assume that, in a modern industrial society, this doesn’t narrow matters down much, but the invariably male speaker yawns at mere literacy. His Girl Who Reads would never be content reading fashion magazines, or actions. Like any fetishist of people, what enthralls him is not idiosyncratic passion, some glimpsed feature, but the bibliophilic construct inside his head. The dewy solemnity of the phrase fails to disguise how it pathetically displaces responsibility—recognizing an extractive leer driving men, you know, all those other ones, who aren’t me. I only want to objectify your mind. These would-be daters stagger unsteadily away from what Hannah Black calls “the disaster of straightness” and then phone the cops to pin it on women who care too much about makeup.