I GUESS

Things keep happening and no one seems able to stop them.

Sometimes a day comes along where all the news has one overwhelming vibe, and today’s vibe is this clip from KC Green’s comic “Gunshow:”

What happened? Well, Donald Rumsfeld died peacefully, “surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico.” George Packer wrote that “Rumsfeld was the worst secretary of defense in American history,” and Spencer Ackerman estimated that he’s likely responsible for at least 415,000 deaths. We can only hope the near half-million people Rumsfeld sent to their premature graves have prepared a warm place for him in the afterlife, but at age 98 Henry Kissinger is still trucking along. I guess!

We were reminded how much America hates women, with convicted rapist Bill Cosby given a “get out of jail forever” card based on what Moira Donegan calls “a minor legal point, [that] seems to have been the product of prosecutorial incompetence” but which ultimately reminds Cosby’s 60 public accusers and every other victim of sexual violence that “justice is not on offer.” On the same day, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied Britney Spears’ petition to remove her father Jamie from her conservatorship. Even Jerry Saltz, not exactly a woke icon, was like: I guess!

Robinhood paid “the largest penalty the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has ever ordered” and it’s $70 million? For a company with $959 million in 2020 revenue? Whose accounting and customer service was so bad it led to a literal death? Instagram is going to try to become TikTok? Four Loko is giving away STD testing kits? Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg is in jail, charged with “fraud and tax crimes?” But Trump’s team is still trying to launch a new social network? That Trump himself isn’t even going to join? A Washington State Representative pinned a whole-ass yellow star of David on himself and said that because of the Covid vaccine “in the current context, we’re all Jews?” L.A. cops blew up a truck full of fireworks in the middle of a neighborhood, injuring 17 people? Four thousand eight hundred words about Joe Rogan in the New York Times?

I need to go lie down. Here’s Intern Linda Yu with a tale from the turn of the century. All crime!

Y2K has been having a bit of a resurgence lately, so I thought we could also take a stroll back to 2000. Specifically to the kidnapping in South India of the legendary Karnataka actor Dr Rajkumar by the infamous Tamil brigand Veerappan. The whole thing reads like the plot of a Kannada film itself: the actor was held by the bandit for a religiously auspicious 108 days, during which the two men debated scripture before his release after a hostage negotiation led by a literal magazine editor. There is still ongoing debate over whether a ransom was paid, how much, and from whom. (RS ₹15 crore in 2000 would be about USD $7.4 million in today's money.) Here’s the good Dr Rajkumar singing in a banging fit:

The best exegesis of all of this is from Suketu Mehta who writes that “Veerappan's whiskers, a sign of virility in India, struck fear into the hearts of the hairless” and that after he was later killed by police—in a spray of 338 bullets—newspapers wondered if the corpse was of the right man since "his face was adorned with only a small mustache, barely a quarter of a foot long."

While Veerappan was a slippery career criminal who smuggled ivory and was sought for the deaths of over a hundred people, he was able to dodge authorities due to protection from locals, who saw him as a bit of a Robin Hood. It's a relationship with precedent: in this paper on Tamil bandit ballads in medieval South India, David Schulman argues that highway robbery has long existed as “a traditional, socially recognised occupation of specific castes“ and more than that, kings were viewed as not too far from robbers themselves (DOI: 10.1177/001946468001700302). Moving to a transformation from king to criminal, Anand A. Yang writes that after the brutal Poligar Wars, the surviving resistant "little kings" of Tamil Nadu were transported as convicts to Malaysia by the British Raj, but lived on in anti-colonial ballads that transformed them into bandit heroes. (DOI: 10.1017/S0021911807001234)

Back to modernity, Veerappan's daughter is currently a youth leader for the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and says she takes inspiration from her father as “people told me to serve others, just like him.” It's not yet clear whether she will cross from bandit to king, but the divide between the two jobs still seems nebulous anyway.


And that is Intern Linda’s last official Intern Tab for us. I can confidently report that you all enjoyed reading her as much as I enjoyed editing her, and I promise she’ll be back in the future. Specifically, tomorrow, when she will be writing her full graduation Tabs issue! But the more distant (but not too distant) future as well.

Delia Cai recently sold a novel and is now putting Deez Links on hiatus to join the asexual team at Vanity Fair as senior vanities correspondent, where she will cover the whole range of dressing tables, bureaus, etc., not just vanities. Danielle Tcholakian wrote about Buffalo’s new police reforming socialist organizer mayor India Walton for Curbed. A snapshot from the upcoming HBO “Sopranos” prequel movie leaked and it looks sick. Bisexual couch designer and… bisexual couch designer Brian Lanigan talked to Them, and revealed that he’s a chill dude and that the couches were all slipcovers on one couch, so none of them, in a sense, actually exist. Is that erasure? Lego made an app that does the “master builder” trick from the Lego Movie using your phone. Kristen Radtke wrote a Letter of Recommendation for gossip but I heard she doesn’t know any of the really juicy stuff. Sam Lipsyte is still working on his apology. And finally, Andy Murray.

Today’s Song: Bauhaus x She wants revenge, Tear You Apart + Bela Lugosi's Dead - DJ ALANT Mix (via unsquare in the Tabs Subscriber Discord)

~ Being in tabs is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important. ~

Sorry Tabs is so late today. Unrelatedly: Wow, there sure are a lot of sports on during the workday. See you next week, pals.