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Hey Beantown, the Puritans found you!
Weekly Rondo: It’s been a minute…
Title explanation at the end of the article…
You may (or may not) have noticed that I have been AWOL the last few weeks. To give you a brief update, I have a friend who has wanted me to come visit her in Massachusetts since before the Pandemic. I got my ticket to go right after she finished up cancer treatment, and then everything shut down. I figured it might not be the best idea to visit a vulnerable friend right as a mystery disease was going around.
After being suddenly free to work from wherever I decided to jet off to visit her for a time yet undetermined. I haven’t done too much sightseeing, but I brought my dog with me, and it has been nice to just be here so far.
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Recommendation: Snob Things
Snob Things is the newsletter that each week selects 10 interesting things to read, watch or learn that feed your curiosity. Politics, current events and society in a balanced mix so as not to miss the story that deserves your attention. Arrive on a Saturday and it's completely free. Sign up here.
A few updates before we get to the articles:
Some of you might already know I’m a content marketing freelancer. I’m just starting out and looking for business, and I finally finished my website! It would mean the world to me if you clicked this link and browsed my website. If you or anyone you know needs a website, copywriting, social media, branding or SEO services, I’m your girl!
I’m going to be starting a Substack for content marketing soon. If you’ve ever needed practical ideas and actionable steps on how to market your Substack, small business or brand, stay tuned.
I met up with other Substackers in a casual meetup in Boston this week! It was so much fun to meet Kim from Women’s Survival Guide, Larry from Letters from Larry and Meghan from Off-Topic (and her fiancé, Ben from Substack). We talked shop on how to improve our publications; asked questions and gave suggestions to Ben about what we’d love to see going forward; talked about other writers we love; and we ended the evening on a more philosophical note discussing the challenges of love and dating in the modern era and how we’re going to find Larry love. (Subscribe to his Substack and send him good vibes.)
Expect to continue with Jean-Paul Marat’s saga on Monday. I have part three ready for editing and part four mapped out. Read parts one and two here. I’ll get those two out of the way, and then I’ll start on a new series about Sergei Rachmaninoff after a short break. Remember most of these are for paid subscribers, so…
Now off to the races.
Deseret News: Are Republican voters trying to lose?
As I’ve mentioned before, I work for the Deseret News, but I have been excited for this article to publish for the last few days. My colleague Suzanne Bates is such an insightful politics writer, and I liked this particularly spicy column pointing out what no one seems to want to acknowledge: Republican voters are really not putting forth their best candidates. Sure some of these ultra pro-life, Trump-endorsed, anti-establishment candidates are getting through the primaries, but they are winning by razor thin margins. It begs the question whether or not any of these candidates are not only capable of winning, but provided they do, are they even capable of functioning in D.C.?
I never thought I’d say it, but it makes me miss Orrin Hatch.
Common Sense: Hurts So Good
Bari Weiss and Nellie Bowles should go on maternity leave more often because Suzy Weiss has been killing it over at Common Sense. Her podcast episode on Gibson’s Bakery and articles on Tinder have been amazing, but this article really resonated with me. I’m one of those people who is constantly fatigued, anxious, and achy. My back is constantly on the fritz, so I trained my dog to retrieve the stuff I drop. I’ve had a doctor tell me I have PCOS and then brush it off like it was nothing. I call my mom every time something weird happens with my body, and anyone in my family will tell you I’m a mild hypochondriac.
Suddenly, it’s dawning on me that this might actually be an identity to use as a cudgel in the culture wars. One of the things I love about Suzy Weiss’ work is how it is direct and insightful without being judgmental. I feel like this is a rare trait in many writers. It definitely caused me to self-reflect, but it was also interesting to read my experiences might be part of a larger trend.
Related: Common Sense’s debate on freedom and liberalism is a must-listen.
House of Strauss: The Hoax Illusion
Maybe it’s just because I am a Latter-day Saint who’s from Utah who gets intensely triggered — and by triggered, I mean something more like the sensation of something causing a gag reflex or hitting my funny bone on something more than having a PTSD induced panic attack — by any news regarding or adjacent my church, or maybe it’s just my distaste for sensationalized journalism that is devoid of any context, but this story from a BYU volleyball game caused me A LOT of stress over the last two weeks.
Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson believed she heard a racial epithet yelled at her repeatedly during a game with BYU — a university run by my church. She posted about her experience and received a great deal of sympathy for her ordeal. Come to find out the fan yelling the epithets in question was mentally disabled and not yelling epithets at all, according to multiple sources. This was revealed several days later, but not until after BYU’s volleyball coach received death threats and the fan was banned from the BYU campus.
I’m media literate enough to know that breaking news and news that uses tweets as its primary sources are usually devoid of the nuance and context needed to understand the truth, but I’m often surrounded by people who see something like this and say something to the effect of, “Look at what your church did! Defend yourself!!” To which I always want to respond, “[CITATION NEEDED]”
This is why I appreciate journalists like Ethan Strauss, Jesse Singal and my colleague at the Deseret News Tad Walch who all investigated the event further. I particularly appreciated Strauss’ article which dissected the issues with how many in the media characterized the incident. Initially, most sources took it at face value, then once it was revealed that the situation wasn’t as it seemed, people either dug in their heels or treated it as a “hoax.”
In reality, I don’t think Richardson was lying. I’m sure that was what she experienced — sports auditoriums are notoriously loud places, and as Strauss points out, the team was formally trained in how to be activists. There is a huge difference between something being a “hoax” and a mistake, and the collective response the media and media consumers had really cemented the issue into place. Ironically, all of this has done Richardson a huge disservice, and it’s likely this will follow her around for a while.
Most of this was my rant, but really, you should go read Strauss’ article. It’s really well done.
About the title
If you’re a fan of 30 Rock, you may have gotten this reference! In season 4 Jack Donaghy reconnects with an old flame, Nancy Donovan. They performed in a school musical called “Hey Beantown” presumably about Boston.
It has been stuck in my head since I got here. You can watch the episode here.
See you all Monday.
The Charrette is a reader-supported publication, and I am poor. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.