Reading, Watching 04.08
The Musk of Failure
This is a regular feature for paid subscribers, wherein I write a little bit about what I’ve been recently reading, watching, and/or listening to. I hope you enjoy!
First off, a quick reminder that we have another mailbag newsletter coming up! If you want to ask me a question, reply to this email or leave a comment. Just indicate somewhere that your query is for the mailbag specifically so I can find it easily.
Elon Musk has made it quite literally impossible to link to Substack on Twitter. This is apparently in retaliation for Substack launching a Twitter-like feature, but I would like to think it’s because of all the mean things I’ve written about Musk. More seriously, this stupid move harms my newsletter and many other publications on here: Twitter was once my main way of organically expanding my audience and growing my subscriber base. With that gone, I have to plead with you, my dear readers, to sign up for a paid subscription. But I also don’t really want Substack to launch new “features.” This constant ethos of “improvement” and tinkering around with what’s not really broken is just more Silicon Valley bullshit.
For some reason, I’ve been thinking recently about the movie Chopper (2000), based on the autobiography of Mark “Chopper” Read, perhaps Australia’s most notorious outlaw. I first saw this film when I was in high school and it got a limited release in the United States and I loved it so much I bought the VHS. It’s a gritty and disturbing look at a violent psychopath, superbly played by Eric Bana, but it’s also very funny. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find on streaming services—if you want to see it, you may have to find the DVD.
Check out Jamelle Bouie and Corey Robin in conversation at CUNY Graduate Center on the state of American democracy.
Just before his assassination, Kennedy recorded this short memo about the coup and murder of Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam. Although the United States, particularly ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., supported the coup Kennedy’s remarks here reveal a confused situation, where the decision to move against Diem was by no means a matter of consensus within the administration and was made almost absentmindedly. Kennedy seems quite regretful and he is clearly disturbed by the deaths of Diem and Diem’s brother Nhu at the hands of the coup conspirators. Adding to the eerie tone is the fact that little John Jr. wanders into the oval office and wants to play with his father; Kennedy interrupts his recording to indulge his young son.