Here is your weekly reminder that it is Friday, just in case you’re losing track of time. Gods know, I am. But hey, good news! Friday means it’s time for another issue of your favourite* interwub digest—The Cut!
Seems bizarre, doesn’t it, that we used to travel all over the world, while now a trip to the local supermarket seems like a treat. A reminder, then, that there are other places out there than the local park. Pacific Voyages is a deeply peculiar travelogue focusing on islands, mostly in the Caribbean, that have been kept off the tourist trail for frankly very good reasons. Compiled by a globe-trotting bar owner who’s a little off-keel himself, Pacific Voyages shows what a big, strange world we live in, and is all the better for it.
Something more on the care of extroverts during the lockdown, this time from one of my favourite introverts, Sophia Dembling. This piece is insightful, warm and caring. Right now, I’m very glad that I can manage on small sips of social contact. Others are less fortunate.
Meanwhile, in Harlem… This NY Times portrait of a teacher and bar-owner who spends his Sundays delivering sweet precious beers to his neighbourhood is a sharply-observed vignette on how things have changed, and how people are adapting. I cheerfully support some of my local brewers, who are incredibly busy after transitioning to delivery. I hope to be able to visit them again soon.
One more thing on Covid-19 and food—specifically, flour. Wessex Mills, based down the road from me, are a well-known flour producer who have found the explosion in demand for their product from the domestic market to be—let’s say challenging. This is a fascinating read that digs into why it’s so hard to get hold of a bag of Homepride these days. Someone save me a bag of bread flour!
Moving on to comics and books. This overview of a current online exhibition from the Society of Illustrators in New York is very good on the way female cartoonists have been routinely ignored or sidelined in the business. Hopefully this is changing as writers like Kelly Sue DeConnick, Alex DiCampi and S. Willow Wilson, artists like Amanda Connor and Tula Lotay and all-rounders like Kate Beaton and Olivia Jaimes redress the balance… a bit. Great to see an exhibition like this, and equally pleasing that it’s easily available to all.
With comics distributor Diamond’s shutdown and the temporary closure of many comics shops, the push to online has become ever more important. If you have a voice and a little talent, it’s getting much easier to make a name and a living for yourself in web-based comics. The vertical-scroller is massively popular, shifting from an Asian base to a worldwide phenomenon. I remember claims back in the nineties that the future of comics was based on independent contractors putting out their wares from digital shopfronts. Now, finally, that may be coming true. Although as a long-time ComiXology and 2000AD app user, I’m pleased the world is catching up…
This is just a squib, really, but it’s a lot of fun. How the most important meal of the day is described in some of our best-loved novels. I’m a great believer in the ‘black coffee and existential angst’ way of starting the day, but each to their own.
My BIG RECOMMEND for the week. You will read nothing odder or funnier than this remarkable look at fandom, copyright and shape-shifter erotica. I’ll say nothing more. Go read and prepare to have your eyebrows end up in your hairline.
Can’t believe I missed this long interview with possibly my favourite author, William Gibson. His new novel Agency is out now, but really you should read his previous book The Peripheral to get a handle on the characters and the major conceit around which it revolves. This is a great piece though, which lands on a lot of fun facts and stories. Some zinging one-liners in here as well. No spoilers. Jack in.
And finally. Just one music article this week, but it’s a strong one. Taking the music played by two of my favourite artists, Steve Earle and Drive-By Truckers, this Paste piece looks into issues of representation, protest and not preaching to the choir. Both The Truckers and Earle are making career-best music right now that hits at the heart of what America has become. Go read, then listen.
As we’re talking Steve Earle, he features in this week’s Exit Music. Here’s a seven-song gig he did for The Current last year. Worth it just for the killer version of Copperhead Road.
That’s it for another week. When next we meet, it’ll be June. Blimey. Enjoy the sunshine.
*possibly not your favourite, but keep it to yourself.