FOR FREE PEOPLE

FOR FREE PEOPLE

Socialist activists take part in a protest against BlackRock on the eve of the WEF annual meeting in Davos. (Fabrice Coffrini via Getty Images)

TGIF: I Love Davos

Reparations in San Francisco. Madonna back in the saddle. And a very odd sculpture in Boston. Plus: Alec Baldwin, Jacinda Arden and much more.

It’s that time, when we take out a machete and bushwhack our way out of another week. To freedom! Or at least to Friday. TGIF.

→ The classified docs no one cares about: Not that it matters, but the White House counsel’s office says there were no visitor logs at Biden’s Wilmington house (normal since it’s his personal residence), where a bunch of classified documents had been taken and stored while Biden was vice president (not normal). Oh, and no big deal, but Hunter Biden lived at that Wilmington house during the time, with the documents, more of which for some reason keep being discovered. (How many Top Secret document closets are there exactly?) Totally unrelated: Hunter Biden was also getting paid a lot of money by foreign groups for unknown activities around then. All great. Onward.

→ Quick reminder on Davos: Everyone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, a confab of political and financial leaders, arrives by private jet, which is how they move through the world, pumping carbon into your neighborhood air as they go. You, on the other hand, need to stop complaining about your paper straw. It’s meant to wilt and congeal, that’s how you know it’s working! Davosians can arrive by carbon-spewing jet, with a separate jet trailing behind carrying their poodles and pregnant surrogates. And once in Davos, the plan is to terrify and shame everyone who’s not there. 

Here’s Al Gore at Davos this week on greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere: “the accumulated amount is now trapping as much extra heat as would be released by 600,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs exploding every single day on the earth. . . . That’s what’s boiling the oceans, creating these atmospheric rivers, and the rain bombs, and sucking the moisture out of the land, and creating the droughts, and melting the ice and raising the sea level, and causing these waves of climate refugees!” 

Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln? 

I have a confession: In the course of my life, I have been invited to join an executive aboard his private jet—twice, if you can believe it. And twice I have said no. Do I just love Southwest? I do not. But once you’ve stepped onto a private jet, you’re actually never allowed to tell anyone what to do or think (other than on the topics of fly fishing, wild game hunting, and skiing). Once you’ve stepped onto a private jet, you have to embrace your role as a villain on this earth, here to reap and to enjoy the spoils, which, I’m told, include warm towels when you board. But you have ceded the moral high ground. And I love my moral high ground. (For approximately two more years, and then goodbye, you filthy plebes.)

→ George Santos gets a promotion: Santos, the freshman Republican congressman from New York, is a serial liar. Yes, fine, all politicians are, but Santos seems truly pathological. A great example: He claims his mom was inside the Twin Towers on 9/11. He’s also claimed she died that day, but apparently she died of cancer years later. Anyway, now it seems she didn’t even live in America then. 

This week’s Santos headline comes courtesy of Patch.com’s Jacqueline Sweet: “Disabled Veteran: George Santos Took $3K From Dying Dog's GoFundMe.” Santos, under a fake name he used at the time—because of course he did—ran a pet charity, Friends of Pets United. He helped a veteran, Richard Osthoff, set up a fundraiser for his cancer-ridden dog. They raised $3,000 from a bunch of Osthoff’s friends and family. And then, what do you know, Santos allegedly ran off with the money. It takes a real lowlife to scam a broke veteran who’s trying to save his dog. Santos denied it and said he’s never heard of the guy, but. . . GoFundMe has confirmed that the fundraiser was real, was linked to Santos, and was taken down amid fraud allegations. 

House Republicans are responding to the various Santos frauds, lies, and scams by censuring him and pressing him to resign, I assume. Right? Dear God no, they promoted him! Santos just scored seats on the Small Business and the Science, Space and Technology Committees. Might as well reopen the 9/11 Commission and throw him on Ways and Means while we’re at it. 

One thing I’ll say for Santos: It looks like he used to be a drag queen, performing under the name Kitara Ravache. And how about that Kitara? She looked great.

→ Biden admin softening on notion of World War III: The president of the United States is now toying with the idea of helping (nudging?) the president of Ukraine to retake Crimea, which Russia took from Ukraine in 2014. Time magazine has this headline: “The Liberation of Crimea Is a Must.” Crimea, by international law, does still belong to Ukraine. But it would be a major escalation in an already expensive and drawn-out war—expensive both in U.S. dollars and in Ukrainian lives.

→ Okay, now we can talk about strokes: Every couple weeks, a former bit of *RED ALERT DISINFO* that could get you fired for even thinking about . . . turns out to be actually true. The latest: The Covid vaccine may increase risk of stroke among people over 65, according to a new CDC and FDA analysis. “We believe it is important to share this information with the public, as we have in the past, when one of our safety monitoring systems detects a signal,” the agencies wrote in a statement. Previously, disinformation about the vaccine included that it puts young men at elevated risk of myocarditis and pericarditis (whoops, that one’s true). And the crazy fake news idea that it disrupted menstruation (oh gosh, that’s true too). 

I’m happily vaxxed and waited in the basement of an elder care facility to get it early. I vax myself with any needle I can find. But also: The Covid vaccine has side effects. It’s a sign of profound insecurity when such truths can’t be said plainly.

We’re all suffering now from the loss of trust in health institutions. As a new mom, I’ve found myself next to other new moms who will talk about pediatricians who are really reasonable about vaccines. No! Stop inviting me to your polio parties! So my message to public health experts: Just tell the truth and admit when things are complicated, so we don’t all have to get measles.

→ China’s population falls by 850,000: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a nation in possession of a good fortune must be in want of children. Or: People in rich countries don’t have many kids. China’s population has fallen for the first time in more than 60 years. The birth rate in the US is at a century low. My personal goal is to buck this trend. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but our daughter is four-and-a-half months old, I’m dead in the eyes, and I’m googling “pregnancy post birth safe how soon.” 

→ “There is no more room in New York”: Eric Adams, mayor of America’s largest city, announced that his town is just totally full and cannot accommodate any new immigrants. “Our cities are being undermined,” the mayor said this week. “We don't deserve this. Migrants don't deserve this and the people who live in the cities don't deserve this . . . There is no more room in New York.” The liberal response to the surge of migrants goes like this: First of all, the border crisis is fake and racist. Second of all, it was caused by Trump, who is still the president. Third, Park Slope is at capacity.

→ Boston’s highly questionable new public art: After $10 million and years of work, the city of Boston unveiled a monument. And oh, it is a mon-u-ment. It’s meant to capture the moment Martin Luther King Jr., upon hearing he won the Nobel Peace Prize, embraces his wife Coretta Scott King. 

But, viewed from certain angles, “The Embrace” looks undeniably like a penis. And what a penis! Washington Post writer Karen Attiah hates the piece and blames its unsightliness on white supremacy, though the artist behind the piece, Hank Willis Thomas, is black. Attiah writes: “Boston's Embrace statue perfectly represents how White America loves to butcher MLK.” Not sure about that one. 

Coretta Scott King’s cousin wrote a great takedown with the headline: “A Masturbatory ‘Homage’ to My Family.” I don’t know how men think exactly, but there are worse things than one of your monuments suggesting you had a dream and also . . . you get what I’m saying. 

→ Nick Cave doesn’t like his AI song: A fan asked ChatGPT, an incredible new artificial intelligence tool, to make a song in the style of the artist Nick Cave. And it did. The fan, named Mark, thought it was cool and posted it for Mr. Cave’s pleasure. “This song sucks,” the artist responded. “Songs arise out of suffering, by which I mean they are predicated upon the complex, internal human struggle of creation and, well, as far as I know, algorithms don’t feel. Mark, thanks for the song, but with all the love and respect in the world, this song is bullshit.” Nick Cave is right. 

Expect more on ChatGPT in future TGIFs. It’s up to some nonsense, just like the humans.

→ Let’s check in quickly on campus life:

Ah yes, students marching and calling for intifada, or genocide against the Jews, and “from the river to the sea,” or the destruction of Israel and expulsion of Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Just another day on the quad. Go Blue!

→ Jeff Bezos checks in on his Washington Post–based PR team: Reporters at The Washington Post had a fun surprise this week: a visit from the big boss. Bezos sat in on an editorial meeting. According to the NYT’s Ben Mullin (who I’m sure is inundated with WaPo reporter texts), the editors discussed story plans around Amazon and also around the Washington Commanders football team, which Bezos is interested in buying. Bezos was there, sitting in the meeting as the owner of the newspaper, certainly having no influence at all

Poor Washington Post reporters, the absolute wackiest in America, who produce headlines that read like a 2019 struggle session scream (seriously, look at their homepage, where among other things they blame sexism for the New Zealand prime minister’s resignation). TGIF is for sale, Mr. Bezos, but I have something called dignity, and I will not allow you to censor anything beyond 17 items of your choosing per week. Okay, fine, 18. 

→ New Zealand’s PM resigned because no one liked the lockdowns: Jacinda Ardern’s popularity in New Zealand tanked during Covid. Her approval rating these days: 29%. That’s thanks to her hard-line lockdowns—not sexism. Now she has resigned. I appreciate someone who knows when to call it. “For me, it’s time,” she said. 

Manslaughter charges for Alec Baldwin: The actor will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico following the death of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust in October 2021. He claims that he never pulled the trigger on the gun that held the bullet that killed Hutchins, but the FBI says that’s not possible. What a nightmare.

→ Right-wing media catfight: Big drama in the conservative world, and it’s playing out on YouTube. Right-wing talk show personality Steven Crowder, whose deal with Glenn Beck’s joint The Blaze was expiring, announced that he had been offered a new deal from another conservative outlet, The Daily Wire, but that it was a deal akin to “slavery.” This is starting out healthily!

“Big tech is in bed with big con,” he said, spending 28 minutes ranting and reading excerpts from the deal that would punish him financially if he gets kicked off tech platforms. Big con, as in conservative. The Daily Wire’s Jeremy Boreing clarified in his own nearly hour-long video that the offer was for $50 million to be paid over four years. Crowder would have a month of vacation every year and would never have to work on a Friday. TGIF is not sure which team to pick here, but if we (I) don’t get summer Fridays all year, we (I) are not above doing a 30-minute YouTube monologue.

→ Madonna announces a new world tour: Madonna, 64, is planning a new mega-tour to sing her greatest hits. There are worlds in which this would be good news, a farewell tour for an incredible pop star. But to say Madonna isn’t aging gracefully doesn’t quite capture it. She is rage, rage against the dying of the light. Face like a cat, implants in the butt (I think?), photoshoots meant to look like porn sets. Whatever these clips by the NFT artist Beeple were about. 

Me, I plan to age gracefully. A little Botox when I hit 38, a facelift at 45, and then, at exactly 51 years old, I release—grow my hair long and gray, light the patchouli, and greet you at the door inexplicably holding a squash. Readers, there will be caftans.

→ Reparations in San Francisco: A city-appointed committee in San Francisco has decided that taxpayers need to give $5 million to every longtime black resident. The city needs to forgive all black residents’ debts. And provide $97,000 a year in guaranteed income after that. (You can listen to the audio of the Zoom announcement here, including a Zoom land acknowledgement.) I could go into details about how California never had slavery or whatever. But as TGIF readers know, I respect a good scam. So I say: Nice. The city’s downtown has had the weakest recovery from lockdowns in all of North America, thanks in part to years of allowing drug dealers to take over sidewalks for equity purposes; its largest landlord, Veritas, defaulted on its loan. But there may still be a little juice left in the guilt-stricken tech rich. Let’s see!

→ Hipster underwear were super toxic: For some reason, a group of millennials in New York decided they wanted to wear diapers instead of using tampons.

And so they made adult-looking underwear called Thinx that were super absorbent, able to hold a horrifying five tampons’ worth of blood. This was, they said, “female empowerment.” And while they advertised this creation as nontoxic, it was, it seems, very toxic. According to the class-action suit, the underwear were independently tested and found to contain PFAS, chemicals that can increase cholesterol levels, decrease infant birth weights, lead to high blood pressure during pregnancy, and of course, cause cancer. Now Thinx executives have settled the class-action lawsuit, and the company is giving everyone who bought a pair $7 a pop, for up to three pairs

There’s something darkly poetic about all this. Another generation got cancer from cigarettes. We get our cancer from adult diapers. 

TGIF. See you in the comments. 

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