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Sphere of a Wack Planet
What are all these chairs doing in the way?
The Integrated Undersea Surveillance System picked it up first, a near-subsonic “bloop” triangulated to within fifty kilometers of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. P-8s scrambled from Jacksonville confirmed analysts’ initial assessment: unchecked anthropogenic social warming had finally triggered a massive release of deep-ocean discourse clathrate, and there was nothing we could do about it now. Rising from the subfreezing alien blackness of Earth’s most hostile environment was an unstoppable plutonian effusion of:
Colombia started sterilizing Pablo Escobar’s feral hippos. Unfortunately this is the most normal thing contained in yesterday’s discourse spill; the lightest fraction. It only gets worse. “Pikachu, Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Charmander are joining A.P.C. for a special Pokémon × A.P.C. interaction.” What in the fresh Millennial hell is this. Débuting in London this December, Gwyneth Paltrow’s skiing accident: The Musical. “A man gave himself poop transplants using his mom's feces to treat his debilitating Crohn's. Then he started experiencing her menopause symptoms.” Business Insider? More like Herbusiness Insidehim.
Speaking of Insider, founder Henry Blodget will step down as CEO to pursue his original passion of being banned for life from the financial industry for fraud. New CEO Barbara Peng didn’t quite say the recent branding change to “Insider” was dumb, but she did change it back to Business Insider in just over the Planck time. BI’s impossibly servile editor Nich Carlson insisted the change “is not about going back. It's about a new beginning for this company. An exciting new era.” Are we not drawn onward? Fun question!
David Cameron is back in Stabbington Hall, ancient seat of Brexitania, which is like shuffling the deck chairs on a Titanic made entirely of deck chairs. What are all those chairs doing in the way? Now he’s suddenly foreign secretary Lord Cameron, which iNews helpfully explained is unnecessary because “The UK’s unwritten constitution does not dictate that a person needs to be a member of the House of Commons to take up a post as minister, or even be in the Cabinet.” Or, one presumes, anything else! What if the whole government was made of Calvinball?
Meanwhile across the pond in New Gunland, the Senator from Mixed Martial Arts Markwayne Mullen did some markwayne shit (help) in a Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, reading several pages of printed tweets to Teamsters President Sean O’Brien (help!) and then issuing him a Douchebag Code of Honor challenge to take it outside. O’Brien counterattacked with a savage fusillade of Medford sarcasm (ₕₑₗₚ) and the pseudo-fracas had to be broken up by Committee Chair Bernie Sanders, who suddenly remembered how to demand a ceasefire. (𝓗𝓮𝓵𝓹)
Former media Twitter guy Slade Sohmer was arrested in Massachusetts on a truly horrific array of child pornography and abuse charges. Zibby Owens of Zibby Media is performatively and preëmptively outraged over a rumor she heard about the National Book Awards, which sound like they’re gonna be lit. @PotatoButtplug’s assertion that “The IDF has a special Sperm Retrieval Unit to collect the seed of fallen IDF soldiers” appears to be an actual fact, somehow? We’re just about down to the worst part of the weird news release now, where a nuclear armed nation is straight up tweeting about posthumous sperm harvesting on main. Yesterday Bluesky spent much of the day debating an important ethical question:
TODAY IN BALLS
Two new takes on the Vegas Sphere dropped. First, Charlie Warzel’s impeccably titled experiential report for The Atlantic describes Sphere as a huge screen that summons all the little screens to make obeisance unto it in “Sphere And Loathing In Las Vegas.”
I wanted to be cynical about the Sphere and all it represents—our phones as appendages, screens as a mediated form of experiencing the world. There’s plenty to dislike about the thing—the impersonal flashiness of it all, its $30 tequila sodas, the likely staggering electricity bills. But it is also my solemn duty to report to you that the Sphere slaps, much in the same way that, say, the Super Bowl slaps. It’s gaudy, overly commercialized, and cool as hell: a brand-new, non-pharmaceutical sensory experience.
Damn am I mad that I didn’t write that title. Meanwhile Jackson Arn took a more highbrow approach in The New Yorker, situating Sphere in conversation with1 Michael Heizer’s relatively nearby self-declared land art “masterpiece” City.
The differences between “City” and the Sphere are deep, true, yet narrower than you might suppose—the works are trying for the same things but in opposite ways. Both are big, expensive, geometric structures in the desert that offer visitors a vivid encounter with the natural world—one with exquisite footage of jellyfish and the like, the other with deftly roughened rock and concrete. Both were funded by the same sort of people (“City,” for example, got money from Elaine P. Wynn, the ex-wife of Steve Wynn, whose casino sits across the street from the Sphere), and both have been craftily peddled to the world, one with a deluge of images and the other with a tantalizing lack of them. Heizer has described his sculpture as “a masterpiece” and “art for the ages”—these being, to the best of my knowledge, the two most Vegasy claims that anybody involved with the Sphere or “City” has made about either.
I’m reflexively skeptical about most things but I had a legitimately transcendent life experience at Spiral Jetty so I would very much like to go visit both Sphere and City, please.
Speaking of fruit, Intern Kira brings us news from the cultural produce section:
In a recent Variety profile, 21-year-old singer Billie Eilish discussed her complicated relationship with women. “I’m physically attracted to them. But I’m also so intimidated by them and their beauty and their presence,” she explained. This is not the first time Eilish has suggested she’s not quite hetero. Over the weekend, Eilish used the “Gay & Tired” filter on Instagram, and she hinted at her potential fruitiness this summer.
Notably, this soft launch comes two years after the queerbaiting controversy surrounding Eilish’s “Lost Cause” music video. That drama was very silly, mostly because it doesn’t make any sense to use the term in reference to IRL human beings. (Come to me about the hate crime that was TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles and then we can talk.)
What’s really interesting about this is what it means for the future of “coming out.” Statistically, Gen Z is hella gay, and it makes sense that Eilish (who was born after 9/11, if you can believe it) wouldn’t make a big deal out of being queer like some of her predecessors did. We are no longer in the Yep, I’m Gay era. The Gay & Tired era feels much more appropriate anyway, as Eilish seems more weighed down by the world than mean horse-girl Ellen will ever be. Gay & Tired is more than a label—it’s a lifestyle. (Or: if you’re not Gay & Tired, you’re not paying attention.)
—Kira Deshler is trying to be Gay & Wired
The only other things that happened in that Variety profile are Billie ate a vegan pastry and promoted her Mom’s charity. Congrats to Katcy Stephan for landing one newsworthy quote and not burying it!
Much to think about today. Much…
to think about.
Today’s Song: Public Enemy, “Welcome to the Terrordome”
This mf just said “situating Sphere in conversation with.” 🧐