The Baffler,  April 18, 2014

The Baffler’s Week That Was



Ladies and gentlemen, pimps and hoes, prudes and Pulitzers, nannies, grannies, and ballers: let’s all take a look back at the past week on the Baffler blog.

• The Pulitzers were awarded early this week, which gave us an occasion to return to two excellent pieces from the Baffler archives: From 1993’s Issue 4, Maura Mahoney’s piece on the making of Donna Tartt—or, what we like to call, “The world’s only negative review of The Secret History,” and Chris Lehmann’s Issue 19 appreciation of the very first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, the refreshingly anti-capitalist novelist Ernest Poole.

• This week we reprinted a classic essay by our editor in chief John Summers on the life and work of the eccentric, irrepressible, prescient, and ultimately misunderstood economist Thorstein Veblen, which had originally appeared in Playboy Forum, entitled “The Cult of the Boss: Why Do Americans Admire Businessmen?” “Veblen, nearly forgotten today, grew up in a gilded age disfigured, like our own, by robber barons, predatory monopolies, financial panics, lockouts, strikes, and mass unemployment,” writes Summers. “Politicians intoned assurances that these were temporary abnormalities in a Sound System, just as our own Depression is cast as a trial of faith, a crisis of confidence. Veblen smashed this big lie.”

• We also published two lovely poems from our current issue—“It was the year we turned to dragons” by Metta Sáma, and “Concerned Possibly Overly Concerned with the Eagle Warehouse & Storage Company of Brooklyn 1893” by Dara Weir.

• On the blog, Jim Newell sank his proverbial teeth into the stubbornness of Virginia Republicans in opposing Medicaid, when they really need all the electoral help they can get; the frat boys you may remember from college, at least some of whom appear to have grown up to become political operatives in Texas, as evidenced by the “Boats ‘N Hoes” PAC flap; and the nonsensical sexism of the political press in assuming that Hillary Clinton’s grandchild in utero would have any notable impact on her choice about whether or not to run for the presidency. (Mitt Romney has, like, 200 grandchildren, and we don’t remember anyone suggesting that might hold him back in 2012.)

• Alana Massey took a lazy and misguided Guardian column to task in her piece about the Everyday Sexism Project, “Shaming Sexism Isn’t Prudery.”

• Anne Helen Petersen recalled her years as a “Liberal Arts Nanny,” and what they taught her about how some employers do everything they can to insulate themselves from embodied interactions with their workers, and with money, and most importantly, with those workers’ lack of money.

Andrew Helms examined what he calls “the slow creep of business language into sports and sports education,” as evidenced by the tenure of U.S. Men’s National Soccer head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. It’s all well and good to “disrupt” with motivational talks about a “growth mindset,” but actual strategic planning and practice are also probably a good idea if you want your team to be a contender for the World Cup.

Why don’t you sign up for our newsletter, up in the tippy top of this page, or, alternately, tell us all the ways in which we infuriate and disappoint you; you can always find us here. A TGIF to all, and to all a good baffle.

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Further Reading

 November 9

There was no quibbling over what item on the menu might be more digestible---Virginia voters just carted off the whole buffet.

 November 10

Yesterday’s twin reports on Roy Moore and Louis CK remind us that sexual assault and women’s inequality are still everyone’s problem.

 November 8

Martin McDonagh's "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" finds moral complexity where it needed moral certitude.