not your grandma's free baby store; the vicarious fantasy of a lofi life; a takeover of Sin City
Welcome to Digestable, your mouthful of things happening in the world.
Dear readers, apologies! Yesterday I was doing the horrible thing of driving into New York City, which honestly just should be illegal.
So here we are with some Monday columns on a Tuesday. I’m sure it’s not the first time that two days have pretended to be each other.
Today I’m reading about how the conflict in Ukraine has hindered the rewilding of Chernobyl, an article (very gendered) with the line “this isn’t your grandmother’s free baby store,” and about a planet in the womb.
Here are some birds at risk because of habitat loss. It’s pretty odd to think that maybe more of the world should be like…Chernobyl a year ago?
The Second Look
Half-baked cultural criticism from Gabriel Coleman.
I had a big chunk of thesis to get to my advisor last week and by Friday I had fully fallen into the paper-writing fugue state that continues to dominate my academic writing process. Sometimes these panic/focused sessions are aided by a white noise generator or a pomodoro timer but this time it was our good friend the LoFi Study Girl who helped me through. LoFi Girl (formerly ChilledCow) is a 24/7 stream of “lofi hip hop beats to study/relax to” accompanied by a looping animation of a cozy girl getting some writing done while jamming to tunes in her headphones. Despite being trapped in an endless loop, the Study Girl transcends her purpose as a focus tool to become a piece of aspirational internet culture.
When you’re working in Study Girl’s company, you can’t help but want to be her. Sitting in her cozy sweater with a cat on the windowsill looking out on a Studio Ghibli city skyline, her desk cluttered but not overwhelmingly so. Listening last week, mesmerized by her loop of soft focus, I found that you can take the fantasy a step further by creating your own LoFi avatar which I promptly did:
I’m not the only one trying to live out their study fantasy, just look at all the people who have created unique versions of Study Girl for their own cities and countries. The “aesthetics” of dark/light academia have a similar pull, curating your life around leather bound notebooks, oxford shoes, and prep school blazers to bring your Harry Potter fantasy to life. And while I’m drawn to the vicarious fantasy of a LoFi life, I’m equally unnerved by the whole thing. Why was I spending time pining for this studious fantasy to distract myself from the studious life I should actually be living? Is the grass just greener from the other side or am I just not cut out for this whole thing?
The attractive thing about these imagined scholastic lifestyles is that they flip between reality and fantasy. There is real joy to academic pursuits and there are moments when I do feel like LoFi Girl, finding a flow while sinking into an author’s ideas or putting words on the page. But these moments of satisfaction are wrapped up in what my advisor often refers to as “the reality of the neoliberal university.” Even at the most dark academia university there is, my success hinges on feeding myself and paying student loans on a thin living stipend, pulling resources from a library that is being bled dry by the academic publishing industry, and working things out with a network of underpaid administrators whose turnover rate outpaces the students. Maybe the LoFi girl deals with these things, but in her little looped life she never seems to show it. She just keeps writing words we can never read into her vacuum of a notebook, listening to music we’ll never hear.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
I'm... not entirely sure what anyone expects me to write about today given that the only thing that has been on my mind all weekend is BTS and the Grammys, which were held in Las Vegas last night!
To be honest, I don't normally care for the Grammys. Even the red carpet is typically less exciting to me than red carpets of the film and tv award shows. But of course, I had to tune in to support my favorites last night. BTS was nominated for a Grammy for the second year in a row and they were also scheduled to perform their smash hit "Butter" last night. Plus, their Grammys outing will kick off their month-long "Permission to Dance" concert series in Vegas. After highly successful, sold out shows in Los Angeles and Seoul, the boys are holding two whole weekends of concerts at the Allegiant Stadium, complete with overflow venues, immersive exhibits, and post-show parties accompanying their takeover of Sin City.
So as you can imagine, there was a lot of excitement in the air for BTS last night! And from the moment the boys stepped onto the red carpet, they did not disappoint.
The boys have been wearing a lot of Louis Vuitton lately and last night was no exception. They coordinated in custom-tailored LV suits with sparkly brooches as accents. V's gigantic paper corsage is my favorite detail, though. The man loves his florals and can pretty much carry anything off, fashion-wise. J-Hope and Suga were both visions in white but my favorite suit of the seven would have to be Jungkook's cropped jacket paired with pleated, wide-leg dress pants. It was such a modern twist to a classic suit and he looked great!
After being accused of using BTS for views last year, the Grammy producers decided to place BTS' performance earlier in the show. As someone who has watched tons of BTS performance videos, their Grammy performance of Butter felt like a teaser to what our boys typically deliver at awards shows in other parts of the world. And even then, they were still the best to take the stage last night. I am only slightly biased but how can you argue with how tight the boys were with their set and choreo?! AND they were down one member as Jin could not fully participate in the entire performance as he is still recovering from hand surgery.
I love BTS so much but it does pain me to watch them be talked down to at almost every single interview or interaction they had with the Western entertainment cadre last night. Laverne Cox was the only correspondent who actually asked interesting questions. And I was honestly a bit surprised by Trevor Noah's interactions with BTS. Please stop asking RM about how he learned to speak English, for God's sake! And what was the relevance of singing the Squid Game jingle to our boys? Just painfully irrelevant and unfunny. I shouldn't be surprised but I am at the fact that one can be the biggest superstars in the world and still have to deal with "Your English is so good!" lines of questioning from Western folk. We're all tired of this, and I know this is exactly why everyone else in the band continues to pretend like they can't speak English as fluently as they probably already can because who wants to deal with this crap?!
Sadly, the boys lost in their category to Doja Cat and SZA. I think the boys were disappointed because this is something they've been working so hard to achieve and it would have felt like a feather in their ever-expanding cap, but we all know that BTS is a lot bigger than this one trophy. They are one of the biggest and most decorated acts in music history! They're embarking on a month-long takeover of Vegas, using the Grammys venue as an overflow location for their sold out stadium tour. Their audience count for their MAMA Awards show performances and appearances alone are so much bigger than the Grammys last night! So I hope they don't take it too harshly.
Oh, and just because I want to show love to every single member by name and haven't had a chance to bring him up specifically, here is the one and only Jimin. Absolute top class!