People only have the despair they can afford

Michael Peppiatt - Francis Bacon in Your Blood: A Memoir

"Bacon’s entourage, which included Sonia Orwell, was no cheerier. The influential critic and editor Cyril Connolly casually remarked to Peppiatt, “The very idea of Sonia being happy is obscene.” Orwell, among Bacon’s gallery of rogues, is a highlight of Peppiatt’s memoir; after their near sexual incursion is foiled by Connolly’s lurking presence, Orwell asks Peppiatt how Connolly can still be lusting for her “after all these years.”

With the arrival of the 21st century, Bacon’s works have fetched exorbitant auction prices, drawing fire from critics, who call for reappraisal. But Peppiatt’s remembrance is neither tribute nor apologia. “Francis Bacon in Your Blood” is a candid portrayal of a famous man who could be very generous, even with his foes, and very petty, even with his friends — and Bacon, to his credit, was acutely aware of his own frailties. When Peppiatt, always anxious about exciting Bacon’s temper, ventured that “people only have the despair they can afford,” Bacon conceded, “You’ve just said something very profound.” Link 

The March Newsletter

All through February I have found myself going down many, many rabbit holes; everything appears to have exploded: politics, the stock markets, the death of Antonin Scalia that has the Republicans, of all people, basically ignoring the constitution and refusing to accept anyone that Obama nominates to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Of course when it comes to the right to bear arms the constitution works just fine for them. 

Meanwhile the media is struggling to understand just how Donald Trump manages to remain the front runner in the Republican primaries, while anointing Marco Rubio as the establishment figure that could save the party! Unbelievable. The man can't handle his own finances and wants to scrap all income taxes, especially for the rich... I could go on. As for the media, they really need to shape up.

Anyway, in this month's newsletter you'll find an essay by David Byrneregarding the Trump phenomenon, Larry Sukernik on the private and public markets and how IPO's are a bad deal for the regular investors, Douglas Rushkoff on digital capitalism, Carrie Battan on the hidden wonders of Sia, Elizabeth Spiers on Conde Nast's struggles with digital media, Doc Searlson what if we don't need advertising at all (this warms my heart,) Scott Galloway in a 16 minute video about the Gang of Four, no, not my band - Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. Michael Graziano, a neuroscientist at Princeton explains why dieting never works - it has nothing to do with hunger, it has everything to do with your mind. Sasha Frere-Jones has a great overview of the Grammys and how the Oscars should take note, Steven Soderbergh on How Necessity Is Just A Mother, Period. Roy Christopher takes a look at some books that are literally 'Other worldly...' And finally Apple answers your questions about security...

Here are the stories:

David Byrne is puzzled by Trump's support

Larry Sukernik on the reason IPOs are historically poor investments because the valuation is already at a peak prior to the IPO

Douglas Rushkoff on Digital Capitalism

Carrie Battan on the Hidden Wonders of Sia

Elizabeth Spiers on Conde Nast's struggles with digital media

Doc Searls - what if we don't need advertising at all

Scott Galloway, who is a professor of Marketing and Brand Strategy at the NYU Stern School of Business, discusses “The Gang of Four” (Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon), their victims, and the strategies that led them onto a path to a trillion dollar market cap.

Michael Graziano, a neuroscientist at Princeton explains why dieting never works

Sasha Frere-Jones has a great overview of the Grammys and how the Oscars should take note

Steven Soderbergh on How Necessity Is Just A Mother, Period. 

Roy Christopher takes a look at some books that are literally 'Other worldly...'

Apple answers your questions about security...

As always thanks for reading, and if you feel like sharing these newsletters with your friends here's the link.

Cognitive dissonance is the normal human condition...

Why Apple Vs the Government Affects us All

 "But the Apple case threatens to undermine those promises. If a court can get Apple to hack into an iPhone, why couldn’t it also force Amazon to change the Echo’s security model so the Echo can record everything you say? Mr. Soghoian believes the Apple case could set that precedent.

“What we really need for the Internet of Things to not turn into the Internet of Surveillance is a clear ruling that says that the companies we’re inviting into our homes and bedrooms cannot be conscripted to turn their products into roving bugs for the F.B.I.,” he said.

Some readers may argue for a simpler solution to this problem: Opt out of the technologies that could be made to spy on you. Don’t buy the Amazon Echo. Don’t put cameras in your house. Don’t use a thermostat that connects to the Internet and can monitor when you’re home and when you’re not.

There’s some merit to these arguments, but technology has a way of worming its way into our lives without many of us making a conscious choice to let it in. Smartphones and personal computers were once an indulgence; then, as more people began to use them, they became inescapable.

The “Internet of Things” will follow a similar path. Employers and insurance companies may require you to wear health-tracking devices. It may become impossible to find cars without cameras and sensors. Every fridge will come with cameras inside whether you like it or not.

“From a historical perspective, we’re entering into a very new era,” said Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Not long ago, we were living in a world in which surveillance was difficult. “In the past, you and I would have a conversation in person. No record would be made; nobody would have access to it. I wrote things on paper; I burned them in my fireplace. They were gone forever.”

But in the absence of technical and legal protections, technology is upturning those presumptions.

“Now we have a surveillance-enabled world,” Ms. Granick said. “It’s cheap, and it’s easy. The question that society has to ask is, Is that what we really want?”


Kanye West Is Fixing His Album In Public. You’ll Want To Read The Edits

When Kanye West first tweeted a handwritten 10-song track list for his seventh album, “The Life of Pablo,” late last month, the photo was captioned, “So happy to be finished with the best album of all time.”

Best? Could happen. Finished? Not even close.

Instead, the rollout of “Pablo” has been an unprecedented public marathon, with Mr. West, the Grammy-winning rap artist, adding songs, revising lyrics on quick notice, adding and dropping contributors, changing the album’s title and release date several times, and gabbing about it all on Twitter. The process has also included televised live performances, public squabbles, unauthorized leaks of demo recordings — the sort of stuff Dylan archivists typically wait decades to hear — and a fashion show with 1,000 models.

The result is an exemplar of modern celebrity musicmaking: a dramatic, rococo, continuous (and possibly still continuing) narrative that spans music, fashion, theater and politics. Mr. West has turned the album release process — historically a predictably structured event, and lately rewritten by stars like Beyoncé as precise, sudden assault — into a public conversation, one taking place on Twitter, YouTube, Periscope and in Madison Square Garden as much as in the studio. With flux embedded in its DNA, “Pablo” is crisply alive, like water that’s still boiling even though the flame is off. Pay close attention to the multiple iterations and you hear an artist at work, as well as a celebrity tending his image. It’s everything bared — process as art.


David Bowie: Blackstar

This is one of the best album reviews I’ve ever read:

 “In the spring of 2014, an old man walked into 55 Bar, a small West Village club where a particularly hot jazz band was holding forth, less bop than modern experimentation, an outfit that churned and surged in exotic, ecstatic bursts. The old man stayed awhile, at a table near the stage, letting the music wash over him along with everyone else, anonymous except that he wasn’t. Only after he left did the whispers start. “Was that David Bowie?” We now know the answer was yes—the old codger spaceman was out, on a Sunday night no less, looking for a new lightning bolt to ride. The result is ★ (Bowie has gone full symbol on us now) or Blackstar, a work—it deserves that frame—that is by turns gripping, confounding and haunting: Recently dubbed a “rock star ghost” by Rolling Stone, this really is Bowie as shade, popping out of the ether to grab us by the lapels and say something deeply meaningful, even urgent, in language that veers from the plain to the downright runic, as if Marley himself arrived to tell us that Christ is risen and boy is he rarrrffgg!”