The Art of Disaster

Fake news to the hilt, communism in America, snakes in the grass, the whole nine yards.

There are no gravestones on the sea. History and memory ground themselves on inscription, but this element is uninscribable. It closes over rather than keeps the place of its dead, while its unbounded grave remains humanly unmarked.

Robert Pogue Harrison, “The Dominion of the Dead”

The grave of Ernest Shackleton’s ship “Endurance” is humanly marked now, after more than a hundred years, “nearly 10,000 feet down in waters that are among the iciest on Earth” in the Weddell Sea reports Henry Fountain in the New York Times. And look at these pictures!

What are all those undersea fringy boys and jiggly puffs stuck to it? Huw Griffiths has the answers.

What’s odd about Shackleton’s whole deal is that if he had achieved his goal and crossed the Antarctic land mass without any drama, he probably wouldn’t even be a footnote in history. But instead the expedition went wrong almost immediately, and over the next two years Shackleton accomplished at least four of the most remarkable feats in polar exploration history: crossing 800 miles of the worst seas on earth in an open whaleboat from tiny Elephant Island to tiny South Georgia Island, then crossing 26 miles of unexplored mountain range to reach the whaling station on South Georgia, then managing to get back to Elephant Island (after four tries), all without ultimately losing a single member of the expedition.

Sometimes it takes a disaster to bring out the best in humanity. Remember when Maureen Dowd ate too much weed candy and freaked out?1 Without that disaster we’d never have gotten Sarah Jeong’s “Thomas Friedman eats brownies with his daughter’s roommate at Yale” thread. Or what about still-ongoing disaster and literal snake oil saleswoman Caroline Calloway? In Vice, Anna Merlan reports that Calloway has finally moved out of the apartment where “her landlord filed eviction papers in New York City’s housing court in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019,” (evictions were paused from 2020 until just now, coincidentally) and is reportedly headed to Florida trailed by the “full-bodied? Muscular?” stink of her signature “Snake Oil” skin product and also the odor of several FTC complaints about it. Disaster is not just the condition of Calloway’s life, it is the essence of her art.

Anyway, “Giant spiders expected to drop from sky across the East Coast this spring” reports Karri Peifer in Axios so I guess we will all get the opportunity to demonstrate our heroism in the face of disaster soon enough.

An extremely self-described “experienced hiker” was rescued from the same Arizona mountain on two consecutive days. Brooklyn, please come get your boy. New England is flagrantly cheating at Wordle. Did you know OneLook lets you search for words when you only have some of the letters? 👀 Kevin Roose discovers that it’s impossible to make up a joke NFT project that’s too stupid to be a real NFT project. In ProPublica Craig Silverman and Jeff Kao debunked the fake Russian debunking of fake Ukrainian disinformation. Becca Leitman and Casey Kelbaugh’s photo essay of Leitman’s miscarriage in The Cut is genuinely well done and heartbreaking, but don’t miss the bio at the very end. Prank backfires. Lyz Lenz: Only ‘90s Kids Will Remember When Sioux City Was a Tech Hub. Why did Mark Meadows register to vote from a mobile home in North Carolina where he never lived?

“I have a great distrust for media,” she explained. “I was a Trump supporter and—fake news to the hilt, communism in America, snakes in the grass, the whole nine yards. I am not charmed by the press at all.” I noted that I was a real person, not a fake one. “I see that you’re a real person, and that’s great,” she said. “But the fake news is full of real people with real communist agendas.”

On The Road Again

This fall, Cormac McCarthy is releasing not one but two new novels, his first since “The Road” in 2006. In the Times, Alexandra Alter reports that:

Editors at Knopf managed to keep the new novels secret for nearly a decade. McCarthy delivered a full draft of “Stella Maris” and a partial draft of “The Passenger” to his editors there eight years ago.

I wonder why they kept these on the shelf for eight years and chose instead to publish… nothing. It’s probably because they are good. Or is it because when he’s stoned, Cormac McCarthy is Thomas Pynchon, and weed legalization has meant a lot more “Thomas time” since 2006. “It’s either going to be two good books or an entertaining trainwreck and I’m here for either,” reports Today in Tabs Senior Books Witch Jessie Guy-Ryan.

Today’s Song: The Dead Weather, ”Treat Me Like Your Mother”

~ Tabs is full of real people with real communist agendas ~

Heather Havrilesky, who also wrote about failure today, and I do a competitive advice column here once a month or so called Today in Polly. People keep saying it’s the best thing I do, and who am I to argue? Email us your life questions and at least one of us will probably give you a useful answer. @fka_tabs, @TodayinTabs, please subscribe, etc etc.

P.S.: Today in Crabs:

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