Weekly Review — August 12, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Storks, 1864]

Claiming that South Ossetian separatists had attacked its villages, U.S. ally Georgia sent troops to capture the city of Tskhinvali. Russia retaliated by sending ground troops into Tskhinvali, then into Georgia proper; Georgia claimed that hundreds of troops had been killed on both sides along with “huge numbers” of civilians. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili described Russia’s troop actions as “the preplanned, cold-blooded, premeditated murder of a small country.”NYTimes.comItar-TassBloomberg.comThe Olympics began in Beijing, heralded on television by fake, computer-generated fireworks.All Headline NewsPresident George W. Bush told Bob Costas that China “is a big, important nation…it is important for this country to show respect for the people of the country.”CEP NewsThe International Court of Justice condemned Texas for executing a Mexican national who had not been advised of his right to consular assistance. “Texas,” replied the office of the state’s attorney general, “is not bound by the World Court.”BBCNews.comUnder pressure from human-rights groups, Iran suspended death by stoning “for now,”BBCNews.comand a U.S. military jury in Guantanamo rejected the 30-year minimum sentence called for by the Bush Administration and sentenced Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s former driver, to five more months in prison atop the 61 he has already served.The Wall Street JournalAustralian police reopened 7,000 investigations after realizing that they had mixed up DNA samples and wrongly arrested a man for double homicide and child rape,Reutersand Franz Kafka’s secret porn stash was brought to light. “Animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action,” said researcher James Hawes. “It’s quite unpleasant.”Times Online

It was discovered that a woman who paid a South Korean company to create five clones of her pitbull Booger was Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming who escaped British authorities in 1977 after abducting a Mormon missionary, securing him to a bed with mink-lined handcuffs, and raping him three times. “They are perfectly the same as their daddy,” said McKinney, in Seoul, of Booger’s clones. “I am in Heaven here.”Salt Lake TribuneDaily MailThe RegisterAfter The National Enquirer published pictures of John Edwards holding his “love child,” Edwards admitted that he had had an affair with actress Rielle Hunter in 2006 but said that he did not love her and that her baby couldn’t be his. Novelist Jay McInerney said that Hunter was the basis for Alison Poole, a “cocaine-addled, sexually voracious” party girl who appeared both in his novels and in Bret Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho.”ABCNews.comA poll by Lifetime Networks found that women would prefer to carpool or vacation with Barack Obama over John McCain by a factor of two to one.ReutersMcCain campaigned at a biker rally in South Dakota, at which there is each year a beauty pageant that features topless contestants performing fellatio upon bananas. “I encouraged Cindy to compete,” he told a crowd. “I told her with a little luck she could be the only woman ever to serve as First Lady and Miss Buffalo Chip.”Talking Points MemoIt was revealed that days after McCain reversed his position on offshore drilling to one of support, employees and family members from Hess oil company gave his campaign $285,000.Talking Points MemoIn New Zealand a 111-year-old tuatara reptile, a remnant from the age of dinosaurs, impregnated his partner for the first time in decades. The lizard-like creature, who now has three consorts, regained his interest in sex after zoologists removed a cancerous growth from his genitals.Fox News

A U.S. biologist in Barbados claimed to have discovered the world’s smallest snake, which, at less than 4 inches long, may be the smallest that snakes can possibly be. Barbadians insisted that they already knew about the animal, which they call a “thread snake.”BBCNews.comCNN.comIsaac Hayes, who sang the theme song to “Shaft” (“Can you dig it?”), and comedian Bernie Mac both died.BBCnews.comNYTimes.comRwanda’s justice ministry issued a report accusing France of participating in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. “French forces directly assassinated Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis,” said a statement from the ministry. “French forces committed several rapes on Tutsi survivors.”BBCnews.comA survey found 125,000 Western lowland gorillas living in a swamp in Congo, double the number of the endangered primates previously believed to exist; nevertheless, due to habitat loss and human encroachment, said a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, almost half of the world’s primate species are facing extinction.CNN.comBBCnews.comThe U.S. Army failed to censor a new medical textbook that teaches updated military surgical practices and depicts blast amputations, dead children, and a suicide bomber’s rib embedded in a soldier. “There was never any doubt in my mind that the Army would publish this,” said Dr. Stephen P. Hetz, a retired colonel and the book’s co-author. “It was just a matter of getting around the nitwits.”NYTimes.comSharks were eating polar bears in the Arctic,Reutersand Greyhound pulled an ad that read, “There’s a reason you’ve never heard of ‘bus rage,'” after a Greyhound passenger on the TransCanada highway beheaded and ate his seatmate.Houston ChronicleAt least 38 Venezuelan Warao Indians had died of rabies after being bitten by vampire bats. “Vampire bats are very adaptable,” said a rabies researcher. “Homo sapiens is a pretty easy meal.”CNN.com

Share
Single Page

More from Chantal Clarke:

Weekly Review July 8, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review May 20, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review April 8, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Get access to 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2019

Gimme Shelter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Body Language

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Trash, Rock, Destroy

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Make Way for Tomorrow

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Red Dot

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Gimme Shelter·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I.

That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.

After living on the East Coast for eight years, I’d recently left New York City to take a job at an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. If it seems odd that I was a fully employed editor who lived in a thirty-two-square-foot shack, that’s precisely the point: my situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. The problem was nationwide, although, as Californians tend to do, they’d taken this trend to an extreme. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.

Article
Body Language·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

But somebody has slipped. The school is putting on the musical South Pacific, and there are not enough roles for the girls, and she is as tall as or taller than the boys, and so they have done what is unthinkable in this striving 1980s town, in this place where the men do the driving and the women make their mouths into perfect Os to apply lipstick in the rearview. For the musical, they have made her a boy.

No, she thinks. They have allowed her to be a boy.

Article
Trash, Rock, Destroy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

In an email before our meeting, Despentes asked that we not do a photo shoot. “There are so many images available already,” she explained. Much had been written about her, too. A Google search yielded page after page: profiles, interviews, reviews, bits and bobs—she read from Pasolini at a concert with Béatrice Dalle; someone accused her of plagiarizing a translation; a teacher in Switzerland was fired for teaching her work. The week I met her, she appeared in the culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles in conversation with the rapper-turned-actor JoeyStarr. The woman is simply always in the news.

Article
Burning Down the House·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Discussed in this essay:

Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright, by Paul Hendrickson. Knopf. 624 pages. $35.

Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t just the greatest of all American architects. He has so eclipsed the competition that he can sometimes seem the only one. Who are his potential rivals? Henry Hobson Richardson, that Gilded Age starchitect in monumental stone? Louis Sullivan, lyric poet of the office building and Wright’s own Chicago mentor, best known for his dictum that form follows function? “Yes,” Wright corrected him with typical one-upmanship, “but more important now, form and function are one.” For architects with the misfortune to follow him, Wright is seen as having created the standards by which they are judged. If we know the name Frank Gehry, it’s probably because he designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, in 1997. And Gehry’s deconstructed ship of titanium and glass would be unimaginable if Wright hadn’t built his own astonishing Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue some forty years earlier.

Article
The Red Dot·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

Sebastian Gorka, the former deputy assistant to the president who now hosts a radio show called America First, was banned from YouTube for repeatedly uploading audio from the rock band Imagine Dragons without copyright permission.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Jesus Plus Nothing

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

Subscribe Today