Discover more from The Bluestocking
The Bluestocking, vol 279
Ice cream so good
Sorry this is late. I blame Keir Starmer.
How Larry Gagosian Reshaped the Art World (New Yorker)
Gagosian maintains his influence by attending to the discreet status anxiety of the buyer who already has everything. Aaron Richard Golub, an attorney who represents galleries and wealthy collectors—and who has litigated against Gagosian on numerous occasions—told me, “People in the art world are incredibly insecure. The richest guy walks into the room. He wants a certain painting, but he can’t get it. Immediately, he’s insecure. That really is part of what Larry does. He exploits that.” A friend of Gagosian’s described attending a dinner at the dealer’s Manhattan town house, along with a fabulously wealthy tech founder, and witnessing a look of “real consternation” on the young man’s face as it dawned on him that, for all his money and power, he was not as connected as Gagosian, not as cultured, not as cool. Everybody was having a grand time, yet this potentate was experiencing an unspoken social demotion. Suddenly, he was a mere arriviste—a visitor at a club to which he didn’t belong.
A new Patrick Radden Keefe profile! Although I’ve excerpted the bit above, because I thought it was a good insight into how luxury markets work, my actual favourite bit of this article is when Gagosian conducts a series of very shady actions in his early career, like gatecrashing parties and taking polaroids of people’s artworks so he can sell them. Then there’s the part of his career where he “projected an image of success that was out of proportion to how well he was actually doing,” to the extent that employees used to rush to the bank on payday because not all of them would be able to get money. And he used to walk out of restaurants without paying. Oh, and the time in 1969 he pled guilty to using someone else’s credit card.
Here’s my thesis: look into the back story of anyone who made a billion as an entrepreneur and you’ll find a rap sheet like this. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the type of person who is OK with smalltime fraud and “faking it til you make it” is exactly the same personality type who becomes a billionaire. (Steve Jobs started out his career by phreaking, or hacking the phone system, which was illegal). You need a sense that you’re special and that the rules don’t apply to you.
That’s also why, IMO, it’s easier to succeed like this if you’re white/middle class/have a good education/posh accent. Who bounces back from a cheeky little forgery charge . . . . and whose life is ruined for ever by a single brush with the police?
The Wrath of Goodreads (The Atlantic)
Viral campaigns target unpublished books all the time. What tends to happen is that one influential voice on Instagram or TikTok deems a book to be “problematic,” and then dozens of that person’s followers head over to Goodreads to make the writer’s offense more widely known. Authors who reply to these attacks risk making the situation worse. Kathleen Hale—who was so infuriated by a mean reviewer that she tracked down the woman’s address—wrote later that the site had warned her against engagement: “At the bottom of the page, Goodreads had issued the following directive (if you are signed in as an author, it appears after every bad review of a book you’ve written): ‘We really, really (really!) don’t think you should comment on this review, even to thank the reviewer.’” Most authors I know read their Goodreads reviews, and then silently fume over them alone.
Here’s me on a big and untameable force in publishing: Goodreads.
Nepotism corner: Stuart Ritchie and Tom Chivers get us closer to the dream of full employment (of men as podcasters) by launching The Studies Show, where they will be debunking bad papers. The first episode is on the diet drug Ozempic and the second is on the benefits of breastfeeding.
Also in podcast recs, I loved Jeremy Bowen’s Frontlines of Journalism. Jeremy has been everywhere that’s under fire, and here he makes me agree with both Piers Morgan and Nikole Hannah-Jones in the same series. Loved it.
“Many countries are fake democracies, and we shouldn’t give them the satisfaction of playing along with their make believe world.” (Brian Klaas, Substack)
“On TikTok, a woman named Pinkydoll with a thousand-yard stare faces you, undulating just enough to let you know she’s alive. Her chants now echo across the internet. ‘Ice cream so good. Gang gang. Yes yes yes. Wow you got me feeling like a cowgirl. Gang gang. Ice cream so good’.” If you go on TikTok, there are livestreamers who pretend to be NPCs—non-playable characters, robotically reacting to the tips they receive, which come to them as images of ice cream and hats. People can make a pretty good living (Washington Post).
You can watch an NPC streamer here. Without seeing the chat it looks even more insane. Humanity is wild.
Oh look, it’s Kellie-Jay Keen, fresh from suggesting that same-sex parents don’t belong on birth certificates, appearing on Sargon Of Akkad’s show. You know, the guy who said he “wouldn’t even rape” Jess Phillips. What an #ally.
“I feel uncomfortable claiming to be experiencing ‘vicarious trauma’. I’m not the victim here. I have always felt it important to be resilient, when focusing on the women and girls directly affected by a crime. But something snapped in me, with this story.” Julie Bindel on covering the fight to find a seven-year-old’s killer (Unherd).
“The turnout decline was much smaller in Uxbridge than the other two contests, which is consistent with the theory that annoyance at ULEZ may have motivated Con voters otherwise unhappy with the govt or apathetic about their party to turn out and register their disapproval of the local Labour mayor and his policies.
On the other hand, the Greens were up in all three contests, and up sharply in Somerton. Watering down Green commitments, an idea which has gained traction among commentators interpreting Uxbridge as a voter revolt against costly green policies, may not be a risk free prospect.” Rob Ford on the triple by-election fallout (Substack).
“Japan’s underworld has not escaped unscathed either: a majority of yakuza are over 50 and there are now more gangsters in their 70s than in their 20s. Meanwhile, senior porn is a growing niche, populated by a handful of silver stars in their 60s, 70s and even 80s.” Can this be true? Send me details (NOT pictures).
Russell Brand interviewing presidential contender Ron DeSantis and interrupting it to flog pants that don’t chafe your balls is Peak 2020s Internet.
See you next time!