How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Irresponsive interviews, books + TV recs, brownies
Hey Substackees, from the enclave in Chinatown, where the music all day has been jackhammering in the street, except for when I came across Susannah Hoffs covering “Different Drum”…
Between that and the new brownie recipe I tried this morning - and man are they good, and will be included in the next box* for premium subscribers - it’s been a very good day.
Do I count getting into the studio to get a little heated about a New Yorker radio piece, “Andreas Malm: How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” as part of a good day? I do. I also think it’s the responsible thing to do, seeing as David Remnick, the editor-in-chief of The New Yorker, chose to softball his way through the interview with Malm, a Swedish climate activist and lecturer who advocates for destroying the means of production that he sees as adding to the destruction of the planet.
As I stated in the YouTube I made earlier today (and which I’d love for you to watch and to send me your thoughts), I have no problem with Malm being interviewed about methods I pretty much vehemently disagree with, in fact, I am extending an invitation to him here to come onto the podcast, where I can ask him the questions Remnick skated past. For instance, Remnick showed no inclination, when Malm noted the street violence following George Floyd’s death as a positive force for change, to ask: what exactly has changed? Further, when Malm asserted that the way to go about change is to engage in “intelligent sabotage,” to destroy property but to avoid killing people, would it not have made sense for Remnick to note that explosions often do accidentally (or on purpose) kill people? Well, Remnick didn’t. Which made me very angry. Warning: cursing ahead.
I was notified of the segment by Erin Smith, whose embedding with black bloc last summer in Portland I wrote about for Reason. (Here’s a pic of the cake I mention in the video.)
Erin wrote to me today to say, the espousal of actions such as those Malm advocates for, “is autocatalytic, in the sense that its energy comes from burning down the order created by others.” Yes, and would it not be super-swell if that energy were used instead to build things? I could get all super-snotty (as I did in the video) and suggest that, you know, it takes a lot more industry and maturity to get a degree in engineering and figure out new and better ways to create and transport energy, than it does to build a bomb. I wonder if it occurs to the Malms of the world that some people that build bombs might decide to use their awesome power in additional ways; if the energy with which they go about their pursuits justifies in their minds a little off-brand use, something spectacular maybe. We can also be quite certain that when people inevitably are killed, a security guard, say, at a pipeline explosion, his or her death will be seen past, you have to break a few eggs and all that. Do you mind terribly if I use all caps to write, THE ENDS NEVER JUSTIFY THE MEANS. Ever.
A few recommendations and one announcement:
Books: Ethan Sherwood Strauss’s The Victory Machine: The Making and Unmaking of the Warriors Dynasty
Robby Soave, Tech Panic: Why We Shouldn’t Fear Facebook and the Future, which published today!
TV: Rewatching Patriot, which is just really weird and wonderful
More TV: last week, my husband asked if I’d heard of the series The Last Man. I told him it was about a college professor who’s wrongly accused of some transgression, and that so many people I know had written think pieces about it that, sure, let’s watch it. Then the credits came on, and there were all these dead rats, and I thought, they’re kind of stretching the metaphor. Anyway, it’s not The Chair! And it’s pretty good.
Reservation Dogs (which I’ve written about previously) finished up its first season and (whoop!) has been signed to a second, which my daughter will also work on. I love this show so much, really, you should watch.
Onto the announcement (and that *, for the eagle-eyed): while we keep threatening to launch Paloma Media dot com, we are getting close. It is as yet unknown whether I will ask you all to port your generosity over there, where there will be daily content (and lots of it, from lots of people) rather than just my occasional meanderings. I will keep you posted about that.
Until then, all the love and I wish you could taste these brownies. (Maybe you can!)