All posts tagged: Brockes

Digested week: Kim Kardashian’s corset, dated insults – and a fuss at the Garrick | Emma Brockes

Digested week: Kim Kardashian’s corset, dated insults – and a fuss at the Garrick | Emma Brockes

Monday Credit for the success of the TV show Baby Reindeer is largely owed to one woman, Jessica Gunning, who rescues Richard Gadd’s baggy, self-absorbed script with her brilliant performance as Martha, Gadd’s stalker. (When Gunning disappears, mid-series, we are effectively left in a room with a man doing bad standup). For the last week or so, coverage of the show’s success – it’s No 1 on Netflix in the UK and No 4 in the US – has rubbed shoulders with commentary about the ethics of the race to unearth the real people on whom the seven-part drama is based. That search resulted, this week, in the spectacle of Piers Morgan publicising an interview on his YouTube channel with the “real” Martha, a woman who, if the show is to be believed, is a deeply unwell individual. The proper thing would have been not to watch. I did watch, however, for the first five minutes, to see how the supposed reality held up against the show – predictably, as it turned out. Where Gunning …

Does shooting her puppy rule out Kristi Noem as Trump’s running mate? Don’t bet on it | Emma Brockes

Does shooting her puppy rule out Kristi Noem as Trump’s running mate? Don’t bet on it | Emma Brockes

There is a familiar moment in Republican electoral politics when an obscure politician thrust into the limelight during election season comes under intense public scrutiny and is found to be not quite as first impressions suggested. This was Sarah Palin in 2008, or Ben Carson in 2016, and the inflection point is the moment at which the supposedly promising new face shades into what Mitch McConnell once delicately referred to as the Republicans’ “candidate quality problem”. Or, as most of us know it colloquially, the moment we realise: oh, this person is unhinged. So it was last week for Kristi Noem, the formerly obscure governor of South Dakota, propelled into the big time as a possible running mate for Donald Trump, and who at first glance appeared appalling in all the ordinary ways. The 52-year-old, who was elected to the governorship in 2018, echoes the Republican party’s hardline positions on abortion, immigration and offshore drilling in ways indistinguishable from the rest of the VP field. She is telegenic, charismatic, reliably rightwing, and, according to her …

Fair to say America isn’t gripped by Liz Trussmania. Here’s what she can learn from Mr Bean | Emma Brockes

Fair to say America isn’t gripped by Liz Trussmania. Here’s what she can learn from Mr Bean | Emma Brockes

‘I know the name,” texts a friend when I ask if she knows who Liz Truss is, but like most Americans can’t quite put her finger on why. “Like 8%,” guesses another when I ask her to put a number on how many of her countrymen she imagines know of Truss. The standard response, in my extremely unscientific poll of Americans as to whether or not they know of Truss, however, was: “No, should I?” – the answer to which, of course, depends entirely on whether you want to understand why the Tory party is polling around 20% or whether you happen to be Liz Truss. Truss, the only one of us to suffer that particular misfortune, was in Washington DC this week trying, like so many minor British celebrities before her, to catch the eye of the Americans. At the Heritage Foundation, a rightwing thinktank that hosted the launch of Truss’s book Ten Years to Save the West, she came bearing a “warning”. Not an ideal ice-breaker, perhaps, but one clearly tailored to an …

Digested week: New Yorkers mourn death of Flaco, America’s first ‘celebrity owl’ | Emma Brockes

Digested week: New Yorkers mourn death of Flaco, America’s first ‘celebrity owl’ | Emma Brockes

Monday The death of Flaco the owl, erstwhile symbol of New York, beloved avian icon, and brief good news item in a sea of grim tidings, continues to reverberate two days after he suffered the most urban of fates and flew into the side of a building on the city’s Upper West Side. He was found late on Friday night, dead on the sidewalk, a few blocks from Central Park. New York, a sentimental town, has not under-reacted to this event. In the year since escaping from Central Park Zoo after a random act of vandalism breached his cage, Flaco, who was 13, had what seemed to many to be the quintessential New York career, rising from his small-time origins in the zoo enclosure to become America’s first “celebrity owl”. In keeping with every ascent up that particular greasy pole, Flaco’s journey entailed learning to identify and kill rats, charm observers, and outfox those who would put him back in his pen. And like all homegrown celebrities, his death made the front page of the …

To my horror, gen X is turning to voice notes – I don’t want to hear your mini-podcast | Emma Brockes

To my horror, gen X is turning to voice notes – I don’t want to hear your mini-podcast | Emma Brockes

There is a joke in the first season of the HBO show Hacks, pitched by Hannah Einbinder’s gen Z character, Ava, to her boomer employer, Deborah Vance: “I had a horrible nightmare that I got a voicemail,” she says. Ha – gen Z hates voicemail; boomers don’t understand jokes without punchlines. “What?” shrieks Jean Smart’s Vance. Ha – everyone’s disgusting, and no single generation will give an inch to another. Sorry to insert gen X into the mix, but in the context of this particular flashpoint, we need to talk about voice memos. (Or audio messages, or voice texts, not to be confused with voice-to-text, which is something else entirely – all right, Grandma?) It started, for me, a few years ago, with friends leaving voice memos because they were driving and couldn’t respond to texts in the conventional way. This was annoying but OK because it was a safety consideration. As time went on, the goalposts changed. Audio messages started showing up in other contexts, often opening with the semi-apology of “can’t be arsed …

A place of tension, lies and the dark side of the human soul. I can’t resist the theatre of Facebook Marketplace | Emma Brockes

A place of tension, lies and the dark side of the human soul. I can’t resist the theatre of Facebook Marketplace | Emma Brockes

There was a snowstorm in New York this week, triggering the shutdown of schools, the excitement of children and, in my case, a flurry of activity on what has become a small but central drama in my life, Facebook Marketplace. There are better forums for buying and selling, and worthier ways to donate your old stuff. But for sheer theatre, it is hard to beat the personalised exchanges of a platform where you can low-key stalk the woman haggling for a 50% discount on your kid’s old snowsuit, to discover she has her apartment on the market for $5m. No deal, madam! It goes without saying that the joy of the Marketplace has little to do with the money it generates. Facebook knows this, as it knows everything about us, starting with how venal we are. The thrill of the game is all, the slight but real satisfaction of offloading a clapped-out old scooter for actual cash money – as long as none of your Facebook friends see you doing it. To this end, there …

I thought 2024 would be grim and predictable, then I saw the words ‘secret illegal tunnel under Brooklyn’ | Emma Brockes

I thought 2024 would be grim and predictable, then I saw the words ‘secret illegal tunnel under Brooklyn’ | Emma Brockes

With storms battering the US and Donald Trump back in court claiming immunity this week, light relief comes in the form of a news story we didn’t know we needed: the discovery in Brooklyn of a secret tunnel, apparently dug by a faction within the ultra-religious Chabad-Lubavitch community. The tunnel, which runs for 15m (50ft), starts under the synagogue and peters out beneath a ritual bath house several buildings along. When cops arrived on Monday to fill it with concrete, they met with strong resistance from the tunnellers. What can only be described as a melee ensued. There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s start with “illegal tunnelling”, which, with all due deference to a group of worshippers in distress, triggers in the abstract a bolt of joy at the sheer range and eccentricity of human behaviour. The tunnel in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighbourhood was reportedly dug by a group of young male students, characterised by Hassidic leaders as “extremist”, for purposes that remain obscure. What is known is that residents in homes neighbouring …

Digested Week: New York’s Christmas music is no fairytale for me | Emma Brockes

Digested Week: New York’s Christmas music is no fairytale for me | Emma Brockes

Monday New York is a Christmassy town where the holiday spirit is strong, but for British people in the city at this time of year there is one sizeable drawback. Over the last few weeks, in department stores and supermarkets, on the car radio and streamer playlist, I have been reminded of the wrongness of the American holiday songbook. For anyone raised on Wham! and Wizzard played on repeat since November, it requires a small but painful annual adjustment. It’s a curious cultural difference. If British festive music is stuck in 1984, then, ignoring Mariah Carey, as one generally must, the American equivalent hasn’t budged since 1953. It’s Perry Como doing (There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays (music to die to). It’s Frank Sinatra groaning out Silent Night at half speed and having what sounds like a very low moment during the line “holy infant”. It’s the worst rendition of O Little Town of Bethlehem I’ve ever heard (Elvis, in his depressed period) and songs by second-tier lounge singers that turn on the …

Trump is facing multiple charges – but there is one that could seriously harm his reputation | Emma Brockes

We have been here before countless times: prematurely anticipating the end of Donald Trump on the basis of actions or implications that, for anyone else, would have proven fatal long ago. Quick recap: the former president is facing four separate criminal cases, involving 91 felony counts, in four separate states; plus a civil fraud case currently being heard in Manhattan; plus a second defamation suit brought by the writer E Jean Carroll, whom earlier this year Trump was found guilty of sexually assaulting and defaming and ordered to pay $5m. Plus a clutch of broken gag orders and the resultant fines. The question in all of these cases is less whether Trump will be found guilty than whether there is any outcome whatsoever that would be capable of preventing him from standing for president next year, or – the more depressing calculation, in some ways – of damaging his chances, if not. Trump voters have, historically, proven even more resistant than the rest of us to changing their minds when the evidence changes. And Trump …

Digested week: Ivanka Trump provides the calm after the storm | Emma Brockes

Monday The sun is bright and the air is crisp as we enter the second and final week of what, among stiff competition, may be New York’s juiciest trial of the season. Not Sam Bankman-Fried, the former crypto-trader currently awaiting sentencing after his conviction for fraud last week, nor Donald Trump, facing his own civil fraud trial (on top of the 91 felony counts), but Robert De Niro, who is being sued by his former assistant, Graham Chase Robinson, for $12m, and who is countersuing her for $6m. The warring suits, which are being heard simultaneously, delivered some absolute corkers last week, including De Niro, 80, shouting across the courtroom: “Shame on you, Chase Robinson!” and a lively discussion around whether, by asking her to scratch his back, De Niro had engaged in “disrespect or lewdness”. (He said he had not; she said it was “creepy”.) We were also treated to an airing of text messages sent to De Niro by his girlfriend, Tiffany Chen, 45, in which she complained about Robinson’s “demented, imaginary intimacy …