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Can a Jew Still Love Kanye? Suzy Weiss



Kanye West and Bianca Censori. (Photo by Swan Gallet/WWD via Getty Images)

Kanye West’s new album, Vultures 1, isn’t exactly a triumph. But a B-minus Kanye is most artists’ A-plus, according to Eli Lake, who reviews the rapper turned antisemite’s latest offering in The Free Press today.  

Eli was an early fan of Kanye—“He defied hip-hop’s division of labor and proved that with enough chutzpah, the producer could become the star.” But Kanye’s recent Jew-hating antics—he’s praised Hitler, thinks the Rothschilds are after him, that blacks are the real Jews, and—you get the picture—has tested the old edict that we ought to separate art from the artist. 

And yet, Eli concludes, Ye is an “antisemitic edgelord, but he remains a musical genius.” Read his full essay here: 

That cute guy at the bar is reading a book. Wait, is he actually reading that collection of Joan Didion essays—or just posing with it? 

“Books have always led this sort of double life: as vehicles for story on one side, and on the other, as props in a performance,” writes Kat Rosenfield in The Free Press today. “With books—as with so many things—who we are and what we want lives in tension with how we wish to be seen.”

Taking a page from Marilyn Monroe and the iconic 1955 shoot of her reading James Joyce’s epic Ulysses, today’s hottest model (Kaia Gerber) is building a literary empire. Meanwhile, wannabe “hot guys” are scavenging for the best “status books” and a gazillion online amateur reviewers are leveraging books as fodder to fuel a whole new chapter of the culture war. 

It all raises the question: Are any of these people actually reading any books?

Read Kat Rosenfield’s story on the new divide between “readers” and readers: 

Back to the music. Just as Taylor Swift has completed her transition from country music to the Queen of Pop, Beyoncé has done the same in reverse. Evan Gardner, The Free Press’s resident country expert, fills us in on Queen Bey’s latest move: 

Two weeks ago, in the middle of the Super Bowl, Beyoncé, shilling for Verizon, attempted to “break the internet” by dropping new music. Instead, she broke a new record. One of her two new songs, “Texas Hold ’Em,” went to number one on the Billboard country chart, making her the first black woman ever to capture that spot. Her other new song, “16 Carriages,” debuted at number nine. The songs are a preview for her upcoming country album Renaissance Act II (a sequel to 2022’s Renaissance), leaving the music world—from R&B executives to country stars—scratching their heads and asking: Is Beyoncé really country?

It’s a good question, and one best answered by her past work. On her 2016 album Lemonade, for example, Beyoncé dipped into eight different genres in just 12 tracks, covering everything from hip-hop to reggae to dance music and yes, country. And “Texas Hold ’Em” has all the telltale characteristics of a country song: there’s hollering, call and response, pining banjo strings, and a pun in the title. 

Beyoncé herself is a constellation: she comes from both Louisiana Creole (her mom) and Texas stock (her dad), and her sounds are often reflections of her heritage. While country may be one coordinate, there’s also her dancy 2022 album Renaissance, a trip into the gay club scene as homage to her Uncle Johnny (whom she lost to the AIDS epidemic). Perhaps the best way to hear her music is like a good old-fashioned Texas cookout: she’s pulling contributions from each parent onto her plate, and topping it off with the “hot sauce in her bag” for a signature Beyoncé Knowles-Carter kick. 

Country’s biggest stars have done exactly the same: just look at Johnny Cash, the iconic crooner who grew up the son of a sharecropper in south central Arkansas and carried scars from picking cotton all over his guitar-picking hands; or Elvis, who grew up singing gospel in a black church; or the soulful black pianist Ray Charles, who once released a country album that prompted him to say: “You take country music, you take black music, and you got the same goddamn thing exactly.”

Of course she’s no Hank Williams or Merle Haggard, but Beyoncé’s latest adventure is even more proof that cultural mixing is in right now—and if you look at the history of American music, it never went away.

It seems we are in the love business. After launching The Free Press Lonely Hearts Club just a week ago, one reader and a suitor have reportedly really hit it off. Love is in the air, folks! 

Today, we present you with messages from three more lonely hearts. 

Alex Spies, 26, Rapid City, South Dakota 

My friends and the old church ladies refer to me as a “hot commodity,” saying that some lady oughta snatch me up. I was reasonably confident this would’ve happened in my life by now. But I’ve made two big mistakes: going to a small engineering school and working at a military base. These two factors have shrunk my dating pool to near-zero.

Now there’s much more to me than the dorky engineer I often am:

Discussing old books with friends

Volunteering to sling beer at community night events

Being the “friend with a truck” 

Picking up outdoor hobbies to play in the hills

Going to various board meetings for whatever I’m volunteered for

Proof of my character growth is me recently discovering “light beers” are actually good and that I will finally give The Lord of the Rings a chance by reading the books instead of calling them “movies that I fell asleep to as a kid.”

Think of me as your typical midwest Lutheran guy looking for a classical conservative lady who wants to abscond from this crazy dating scene with me. 

(Dear Editor, if I get a response from a girl in her 20s who seems like she could be friends with my grandmother, I’ll finally subscribe to the paid version.)

Isabella Pria, 29, New York City 

My name is Isabella, and I’m a 29-year-old architect working in NYC. I’m from Venezuela but I’ve lived in the U.S. for over 10 years.

In my culture, Valentine’s Day is also known as the “Day of Love and Friendship,” so I figured I’d give it a shot at finding the latter. I just need a friend.

Friendships have proved increasingly difficult to find as I grow older and more selective. Besides, I’m already married. 

I have a super green thumb, I am a regular nightlife/techno enjoyer, and I like alternative aesthetics. Just your regular Brooklyn girl, except that I have the wrong politics and enjoy reading about internet drama and culture wars from the other side of the aisle. 

I’m not a conservative, but in the Brooklyn ecosystem, I am the odd one out. I often keep my opinions to myself, hiding my true self from potential friends. In a habitat like this, how can we find each other in the wild?

In that spirit, I am turning to TFP to find a friend that likes reading heterodox thinkers, but also likes to leave their house with a fire outfit and be social. Someone that allows me to transform my online lurking into real-life connection, and most importantly, that I can send memes to. Lord, so many good memes have passed me by. 

I think this quest was inspired in part by listening to Suzy Weiss on the podcast Blocked and Reported, which gave me hope that there are people in this city that I would indeed want to be friends with. Shout-out to Suzy.

So here’s hoping that someone else is looking for the same thing. Please don’t make me go to Dimes Square to solicit strangers on the street. If you’d like to connect, email me. Did I mention I have an Italian husband who will make you pasta if the vibes are right? 

Riley O’Neill, 24, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

I’m just a Gomez looking for a Morticia. I love disco dancing & meringue, spicy food, antique shopping, gardening (especially winter hardy cactus, bonsai, and rare plants), designer clothing, wheel-throwing pottery, restoring 1800s furniture (notably my Chinese canopy bed), tamales, traveling, and meaningless debates late at night. 

I’m 6’5 with glasses and spiky brown hair on a good day. I’m a PhD student studying machine learning and computer vision. I’m proficient in Chinese, can survive with Japanese, and can negotiate at flea markets in Italian. I don’t like breweries, gyms, or Taylor Swift’s music—conformity is the most distasteful sin of all; it’s better to be crazy than boring. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of French disco and Queens of the Stone Age. I’m looking for romance above all else—okay, maybe Bigfoot too. 

I don’t change my mind very quickly. From my early adolescence onward, I fervently wanted to grow marijuana (legally). I impatiently waited years and years for Minnesota to legalize it. But now that it’s finally legalized, I have absolutely zero interest in growing it. It’s feasible to make far more per acre growing lavender, which also has far fewer regulations. 

As Twain once wrote, “There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” Maybe that’s why I tend to fall in love with lesbians and married 20-somethings.

Should any of this appeal to you, please drop me a line. I’m reachable by carrier pigeon and smoke signal, but you’ll have the most success with email. At least steal my heart before you steal my identity.

If you’re interested in Alex, Isabella, or Riley, drop them a line. And if you want to submit your own lonely heart, find out more here

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Join Me at 6:00p.m. ET Tomorrow For a Q&A on Palestine Chris Hedges




Join me tomorrow, Friday 6:00pm ET for a live Q&A on Palestine. We will be streaming on my Twitter account and on my YouTube channel.

We will be taking questions both live and from this post on Substack. To comment here, you must be a paid subscriber. Hope to see you there!

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June 19, 2024 Heather Cox Richardson





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This Company Believes in “Protecting Women’s Sports.” TikTok Banned Its Ad. Julia Steinberg




Jennifer Sey started an apparel company that believes in “protecting women’s sports and spaces.” Its ad was just banned on TikTok. (XX-XY Athletics)

This piece was first published in our news digest, The Front Page. To get our latest scoops, investigations, and columns in your inbox every morning, Monday through Thursday, become a Free Press subscriber today:

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In March, our friend Jennifer Sey, the former Levi’s exec and Covid-19 lockdown critic, told us she was starting an apparel company for women athletes, and since then she’s done exactly that. Her company XX-XY Athletics has put leggings, t-shirts, tank tops, and hats on the market, with both women’s (XX) and men’s (XY) collections. XX-XY Athletics counts its mission, according to Sey, as “protecting women’s sports and spaces and encouraging others to do the same.” 

“If you want your daughters to have the same opportunities you had, stand up,” a recent XX-XY ad says, adding, “If you don’t think it’s fair or safe to allow men to play women’s sports, stand up.”

It turns out that this is not the sort of thing one is allowed to say on TikTok. The Chinese-owned social media platform quickly banned the ad on the grounds that it “may violate TikTok’s advertising policies by featuring offensive content.” Sey posted on X, “When you run an ad standing up for women and girls’ sports, you get banned for life from @tiktok_us.” 

Sey, who was a champion gymnast herself, told me that the ads were on TikTok for less than a week before they were taken down—and that XX-XY’s account has been suspended from posting any ads on the platform. “They offered no reason for how we violated their policies,” Sey said. “Despite the fact that I find the ad quite uplifting, it’s anodyne.” (Watch it for yourself here.) 

Sey’s team will likely appeal TikTok’s decision, which has become a critically important platform for reaching young people. “Fifty percent of people under 30 are on TikTok,” she said. “You gotta fish where the fish are.” At the very least, Sey wants an explanation of what policy she violated.

Julia Steinberg is an intern at The Free Press. Read her piece on the college dropout who unlocked the secrets of ancient Rome using AI. And follow her on X @Juliaonatroika.


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