FOR FREE PEOPLE

Follow The FP on Instagram!

FOR FREE PEOPLE

The figurehead on Jeff Bezos’s megayacht, which docked at Cannes this week, resembles his girlfriend Lauren Sánchez. (Alamy Photos)

TGIF: Cruising for a Bruising

Canadians say yes to death. South Koreans say no to birth. Plus: DeSantis, flat-earthers, a Citi Bike Karen—and Bezos’s amazing love boat.

TGIF. No announcements this week other than that we are in our office. It’s great, in large part because I don’t have to fold all our laundry before colleagues get to the house. Thank you to our subscribers for making these dreams come true. 

→ Ron DeSantis officially launches: DeSantis, the governor of Florida and the bane of Big (Mickey) Mouse, is officially running for president. He launched his campaign on Wednesday with Elon Musk in a Twitter Space—a live audio feed hosted by the platform. But the audio was off; it kept crashing. DeSantis and Musk kept cutting out. Much of the early conversation, when it could be deciphered, was about Twitter itself, almost like an ad for Musk more than an ad for DeSantis. It was an extremely online launch for an extremely online presidential candidate, and he talked in the patois of conservative podcasters (Bitcoin, ESGs) more than the meat-and-potatoes ’Mericana of old Republicans. DeSantis is very concerned about the woke (have you heard of them?). You can listen to the announcement here, or if you want to hear the early hiccups, here. Biden got in a nice dig, tweeting out his fundraising page with: “This link works.”

In the polls, Trump is still way ahead of DeSantis. But here’s one that shocked me and got me thinking—DeSantis is actually pretty well liked, not too far below Trump at all. Also, look at all those Ted Cruz fans! Name yourselves. 

Later, DeSantis went on Fox News to talk to Trey Gowdy, who asked a question about the actual issues like guns and lives and wars going on, but DeSantis swiftly pivoted back to The Culture War. It’s much more fun to talk drag queen story hours (too many? Not enough?) and paper straws than like. . . Kharkiv. Gowdy: “If you’re president, how would you address the ongoing war in Eastern Europe between Russia and the Ukraine on day one of a Ron DeSantis presidency?” 

DeSantis: “First, I think what we need to do, as a veteran, is recognize that our military has become politicized. You talk about gender ideology, you talk about things like global warming, that they’re somehow concerned, and that’s not the military that I served with.” If DeSantis wins the presidency, you better believe he will have F-15s circling Bud Light warehouses. Okay, Europe might be run by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, but your straws, oh, your straws will be plastic. 

→ Tim Scott announces the normal way: The Senate’s sole black Republican, Tim Scott, also announced this week, which is surprising only because he seems like a happy person. He made the announcement on a stage in South Carolina, the state where his grandfather was born in 1921, dropped out of the fourth grade to pick cotton, and never learned to read or write. Two generations later, that’s the state Scott represents. NBC had the important question, with a reporter asking the new presidential contender: “As a single man, is there someone in your life? Is there time for a woman in your life right now?” All right, then. 

→ Best to let someone do some murders first: Nakita Marie Walker, a D.C. resident, was a very, very bad driver. She had three DUIs and $12,000 in unpaid tickets, mostly for speeding. But none of that was enforced; no one, like, booted her car (God forbid!). No, the key for modern it’s-all-good-vibes-mantra policing is just to watch and wait (till there’s a murder). Lo, Nikita one day drove drunk, ran a red, got flagged by a cop, and then sped off, slamming her car into traffic and killing Lyft driver Mohamed Kamara, 42, and passengers Olvin Torres Velasquez, 23, and Jonathan Cabrera Mendez, 23. This week she was charged with murder. Who could have ever predicted this would happen? I’m shocked she was charged with murder for killing three men (seems pretty sexist; let’s unpack that in a breakout session). Anyway, if a drunk driver kills me, I hope at least to have the dignity of it being a fresh drunk driver, someone no one expected. 

→ Globes, globes everywhere: One local GOP chair in Georgia, Kandiss Taylor, is out and proud as a flat-earther this week. (This is the movement of people who believe the earth is flat. It’s real.) 

Here’s Kandiss Taylor: “All the globes, everywhere. . . I turn on the TV, there’s globes in the background. . . . Everywhere, there’s globes. You see them all the time, it’s constant. My children will be like ‘Mama, globe, globe, globe, globe’—they’re everywhere. That’s what they do to brainwash.”

Not to sound like a total Round Earther here, but does she just mean spheres? As in, there are just a lot of circles around here, if you know what I mean? In my mind, this woman is stalking around her house with a shotgun just waiting to come face to leather with a basketball. 

Taylor also ran for governor of Georgia in 2022. Her slogan, which is actually kind of genius in its simplicity: “Jesus. Guns. Babies.” 

→ Lot of Canadians on board with homeless suicide: A third of Canadians are now okay prescribing assisted suicide for homelessness. I get that people are still very wary of mental institutions and that there are some deep roots to poverty and it’s all a little uncomfortable to talk about. But I do think there are a few other steps we could take before. . . killing the homeless. 

(If you haven’t yet read Rupa Subramanya’s incredible story on euthanasia in Canada, click here.) 

→ The Citi Bike Karen who wasn’t: When a video of a pregnant hospital worker having her Citi Bike stolen went viral last week, she was cast as the villain. She was white, “a Karen”; he was black and holding the camera, claiming the bike was his and her tears were fake. The video went very, very viral. Who cares that she had a receipt showing it was, indeed, her bike that she was struggling to get on. (Truly.) Her employer—Bellevue Hospital—called the video “disturbing” and put Sarah Comrie on leave, saying she “will remain on leave pending a review.” They added: “As a health system we are committed to providing an environment for our patients and staff that is free from discrimination of any kind.” So wise. So important. Which is why I hope she sues them. 

Meanwhile, Uber’s head of diversity, Bo Young Lee, is on leave after holding a panel called “Don’t Call Me Karen” about “diving into the spectrum of the American white woman’s experience from some of our female colleagues, particularly how they navigate around the ‘Karen’ persona.” Ms. Lee, the first rule of DEI is we hate Karens. 

→ Woody Allen saves a choking friend: Apparently, Woody Allen administered the Heimlich maneuver for a friend, former Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein, which of course means Page Six can keep the lights on for another month. My main thought here is not political but mostly that Woody Allen is petite and now elderly, and that that’s quite physically impressive. 

→ Surgeon General issues warning about teens and social media: The Biden-Harris admin is launching a new task force for kids’ online health and safety. The Surgeon General issued a 19-page report on the research: “There are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.” 

This is some nanny state I can get behind. I want the phones gone. Burn the phones. Or at least deputize social media to teach pre-calc. I have a ticking time bomb on my hands who I’m told will eventually become a teenage girl. I have twelve years to rid the country of social media. 

This is my Taken

(Read Olivia Reingold’s story about the badass parents saying no to phones.)

→ Korea abolishes itself: That’s a line from Razib Khan, whose Substack I love. At this point, no amount of hand-wringing, no new social programs, no bullying of the youth will change what’s happening: South Korea’s fertility numbers are so low, the country’s dying out. I’ll never understand this just on a biological level—my drive to reproduce can’t be dampened by iPhones. When I read about Russian oligarchs hiring 100 surrogates, or Hilaria Baldwin doing whatever she’s doing with her fleet, I’m not technically supportive, but I quietly nod. This I do not understand: 

I wonder what species will replace us? I’ve always thought the octopus could give it a go. But I hope it’s pigs! 

→ Wait, solar panels take up a lot of space: Some Mojave Desert residents are less than pleased with their life among solar panels (read this fabulous new Guardian story from this week about it). Solar power sounds sweet and lovely, so clean, warm, friendly. But the earth giveth and the earth taketh away—solar panels themselves take up an enormous amount of space, destroy the local ecosystem, create dangerous heat vortexes and dust bowls. One idea is simply to shut everything down. . . 

→ Welcome to Degrowth: A new movement is calling for the end of progress, the end of growth, and a return to something a little rougher. The movement held a conference in Europe last week. Here’s how one speaker put it: “Infinite growth on finite resources is not only a myth but it’s extractivist and ruthlessly oppressive by design. . . . We have to acknowledge what lays below our growth: white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism.” The easy thing is to dunk on this movement—so many dunks. But it’s worth it also to wonder why it’s striking such a chord with people. It’s worth it to ask why has South Korea, with all its advancement, started to commit demographic suicide? Or why Canadians are committing actual suicide? 

And now a popular movement is arguing that “degrowth” should be a kind of government policy. The death drive part of our nature had been pretty well controlled through organized religion before recently, when some of us fumbled the ball. (I’m looking at you, Catholics! This is not my job!)

→ Hot Jeff summer: This week, Jeff Bezos is sailing on his new yacht, a yacht whose figurehead is a sensual wooden sculpture of his fiancée Lauren Sánchez. Also on board? Her tall, attractive ex, who’s posing shirtless with them all. I don’t make assumptions. I just report facts. 

When I was at the Times, I profiled Jeff Bezos, talking to a bunch of his fancy friends for it, and they all repeated the same lie: He’s a nice, quiet family man; yep, just wife and kids and work. The PR team who bullied them deserves a raise. Because Jeff Bezos is, in fact, a real freak, and was seen dancing to the Bad Bunny set at Coachella just last month. I like that he has all the money in the world and lives the dream life of a 23-year-old. 

TGIF salutes him and awaits a summer of Bezos Gone Wild content. My only request is every once in a while, maybe he could check in on his manic children at The Washington Post

→ Woman shoved into departing train: In New York this weekend, at 6 a.m. on Sunday, a man and a woman who didn’t know each other got off a train. The man grabbed the woman’s head with both hands and thrust it into the train as it departed. The victim, Emine Yilmaz Ozsoy, a beautiful Turkish artist, is now paralyzed from the neck down. The attacker walked out peacefully afterward—as Caitlin Flanagan put it: “Strangely, no one intervened.” (He’s since been arrested.) 

→ Target is the new Bud Light: New rage just dropped. Now we’re all either upset about Target or defending Target. Here’s how it went down: Target decided to start selling tucking swimwear. This is a swimsuit one would use to hide the fact of a penis (to tuck it, so to speak). I guess it’s super tight or maybe it involves straps—I’m not a physicist, okay. Conservatives, right on cue, got very upset about the tucking suit. America rests on that tucking suit being off the shelves! When Target’s CEO bowed to pressure and yanked back the tuck suit (I don’t like this any more than you do), Gavin Newsom then decided that the rights of. . . Asians, Jews, and women all rest on nothing less than keeping that tucking suit swinging on the racks. People: if Target stops selling the tucking suit, America falls. 

Wake. Up. America. 

My favorite character in all this is an unnamed Target worker, a lanky blonde with forearm tattoos. We meet her on camera as she’s confronted by a conservative activist who found himself a loose, adult-sized t-shirt with the word PRIDE on the front. Does she support Satanic Pride propaganda, he asks, waving the baggy Pride shirt? Yep, she says, sure. He’s led out by security, shouting questions as he passes people—do you support this??? Our blonde guide, quietly, almost to herself, keeps a running commentary they do; he does; no one cares. Exactly. 

The liberal critique here is obviously correct: let people wear whatever they want! J.K. Rowling agrees. But I thought this, from Sohrab Ahmari, was also a smart critique from the right: “I’m beginning to despair of the whole right, but especially the anti-woke formation (much as I loathe woke-ism). There’s no positive vision to it. It’s unserious. It seems designed to stave off real populism at the level of political economy.”

All I know is a drag queen keeps chasing me, trying to read Little Bo-Peep to my baby.

This post is for paying subscribers only

Subscribe

Already have an account? Log in

Latest