Pokemon Go and Chuck Close: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters

Pulitzer Prize-Winner Phil Kennicott’s Pokemon Go Diary
Philip Kennicott | The Washington Post
“Apparently, I am merely capturing Pokemon (the plural of Pokemon is Pokemon, not Pokemons or Pokemata) and submitting them to the scrutiny of science. But later I can also use them to combat other Pokeman, which makes it feel like I’ve fallen into some sick world of virtual cock fighting or dog baiting. In any case, the distinction between killing Pokémon and capturing and enslaving them is rather flimsy.”

Chris Hemsworth, Male Privilege Heartthrob
Allison P. Davis | The Ringer
“So remember: When you are fixated on Hemsworth’s big, vascular biceps and the gentle curve of his calves in tight jeans, those muscles serve a higher purpose. They are reminding us what a handsome, entitled, extremely stupid white dude can still get away with in this world. Also, they are beautiful.”

Inside the Playlist Factory
Reggie Ugwu | Buzzfeed
“We’ve come to expect that virtually all of our problems can be solved with code, so much so that we summon it unthinkingly before doing almost anything: from choosing what movie to watch, to finding a doctor, to deciding where to wake up the next morning and who with. But what if music is somehow different? What if there’s something immeasurable but essential in the space between what is now called ‘discovery’ and, you know, that old stupidly human ritual of finding and falling in love with a song?”

The Quiet Perfection of Tim Duncan
Bethlehem Shoals | GQ
“There’s a remarkable similarity between Duncan’s attitude toward superstardom and the public’s attitude toward Tim Duncan. In the same way that Duncan has been both indispensable and more felt than seen throughout his career, for the man himself, acclaim was incidental. He never had to make peace with athletic celebrity because it just never stuck to him.”

The Emails of Joanna Rothkopf and Kelly Stout
Joanna Rothkopf and Kelly Stout | Jezebel
“It’s Thursday, garbage day. One of the garbage days, I should say. Every day is a garbage day when the thin film that was the world thickens into a scrim, which I now have wrapped around my face to keep out the morning light. Light! It so reminds me of darkness that I find it easiest to ward of its creep by dressing in its own costume.”

Behold Your Newest Silver-Screen Sex Goddess, Jane Neighbor
Rachel Axler | The New Yorker
“Recently, I met Jane under a bridge next to a defunct dentist’s office, on the Lower North Side of somewhere in Queens. (It’s a celebrity haunt, in that I think some famous people were maybe killed there.) I don’t remember what she was wearing, but I think it was hair? Something was on the front of her head—either glasses or a nose. I probably should have taken notes. She made noises with the lower part of her face, and I was mesmerized.”

Garth Brooks Brings Rousing Anthems and Ballads to Yankee Stadium
Jon Caramanica | The New York Times
“At the end of the night, fireworks shot into the sky from behind the stage, but they were upstaged by the rain, which began during ‘Friends in Low Places’ and really took hold during ‘The Dance,’ one of Mr. Brooks’s most scarred ballads. It was so apt as to seem art-directed; it was studied sincerity and spontaneity all rolled into one. As Mr. Brooks sang, with eyes closed, about the trauma of failed love, raindrops were exploding at his feet.”

Schoolboy Q’s Blank Face Is a Gangster Rap Classic
Frank Guan | Vulture
“Q’s excellence both reflects and contributes to the improving fortunes of rap on the West Coast, a region which, after a long period of relative stagnation, has undergone a renaissance in recent years, as multiple creative constellations emerged whose members were eager to revitalize, interrogate, or move past the traditions and legacy of California gangster rap.”

The Erotic Bard of Ancient Rome
James Romm | The New Republic
“His fearless attacks on his enemies, even revered public figures, teem with anuses, penises, stinking armpits—one man, a certain Rufus, is said to have a wild goat living beneath his—and graphic sex acts either given or received. The saltiness of these poems has thrilled many a beginning Latin class, but their power extends beyond mere shock value. With his freewheeling aggression, his willingness to let fly at the slightest provocation, Catullus evokes the modern Beat poets; the ‘neoteric’ school to which he belonged was just as daring as theirs in breaking with literary tradition.”

The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close
Wil S. Hylton | The New York Times Magazine
“It seems to me now, with greater reflection, that the value of experiencing another person’s art is not merely the work itself, but the opportunity it presents to connect with the interior impulse of another. The arts occupy a vanishing space in modern life: They offer one of the last lingering places to seek out empathy for its own sake, and to the extent that an artist’s work is frustrating or difficult or awful, you could say this allows greater opportunity to try to meet it.”

Pokemon Go Is a Work of Art, Not a Social Experiment
Virginia Heffernan | Los Angeles Times
“For all its elegant features, Pokemon Go has suffused the ether because its artistry generates a singular effect: inevitability. Resistance to the game vanishes in a flash. To try Pokemon Go is to feel there’s no going back—that, in fact, on some deep level you’ve been somehow waiting for this experience your whole life, maybe even training for it in your dreams.”