Watercolor portraits of Pierre Toussaint and his wife, Juliette Noel Toussaint, circa 1825, attributed to Anthony Meucci (photo courtesy The New-York Historical Society)

Watercolor portraits of Pierre Toussaint and his wife, circa 1825, attributed to Anthony Meucci are some of the 49 new works installed at Gracie Mansion, the residence of the mayor of New York. The ‘WSJ‘ reports: “In particular, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife wanted the art and objects inside the 1799 home where her family now lives—one of the oldest surviving wooden structures in New York City—to be a broader and more accurate reflection of the city as it looked in the late 1700s and early 1800s.” (photo courtesy the New-York Historical Society via WSJ)

This week, the secret drone war, guerrilla action in the British Museum, the unseen Michael Graves prototype in Brooklyn, the dark ages of the internet, removing tipping from restaurants, and more.

 The Intercept obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the US military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia:

The Obama administration has been loath to declassify even the legal rationale for drone strikes — let alone detail the bureaucratic structure revealed in these documents. Both the CIA and JSOC conduct drone strikes in Yemen, and very little has been officially disclosed about either the military’s or the spy agency’s operations.

“The public has a right to know who’s making these decisions, who decides who is a legitimate target, and on what basis that decision is made,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Both the Pentagon and the National Security Council declined to respond to detailed questions about the study and about the drone program more generally. The NSC would not say if the process for approving targets or strikes had changed since the study was produced.

 Activists went to the British Museum for a guerrilla action that shared stories of contemporary death and misdeeds of oil companies around the world. They are part of the movement to push museums to reject sponsorship from oil companies:

Our theatrical protest group has now performed many times inside the museum, bringing to life the reality of BP’s destructive operations: oil-choked pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico; deepwater wells in a whale nursery in the Great Australian Bight; tar sands, fracking, Arctic drilling and climate change.

… I tried to connect the sordid reality of BP’s brutality with the clean green power of its brand, as marketed through places like the British Museum. How did this come about? Museums are supposed to deepen our knowledge of our – and other cultures’ – history, to help us better understand the present. Why don’t the museum’s staff and trustees care that they are supporting such a ruthless, destructive company, one that is using them to help rewrite recent history, and help shape a corporate-dominated future? There is a direct relationship between BP’s impunity and its cultural champions. Its sponsorship deals feed its social licence to operate, and let it get away, repeatedly, with murder.

 The Brooklyn Museum owns Michael Graves’s ‘prototype’ of a postmodern interior, but it has never been displayed:


The dismantled apartment project has been in the archives of the Brooklyn Museum ever since. It’s never been displayed. It’s a shame—and not just because a project like this could potentially travel to institutions that would like to exhibit it. It’s just sitting there, waiting for me to live in it. It should be shown for many reasons, not least of which being that it occupies a small but interesting place in the career arc of the architect, who died earlier this year.

 A warning that anything, including a Pulitzer Prize–winning story, can disappear (forever) from the internet:

It was worth the effort. Vaughan’s story about the 1961 crash, a 34-part series that spanned more than a month in early 2007, was a sensation. “I don’t want to overstate it,” Vaughan said. “But I feel like it was transformative for the people who went through that tragedy. I’ve had people tell me, for instance, that the series cut loose all this emotion that they had bottled up inside, most of them for their entire lives.” Readers wrote in to say they’d sit at their computers at midnight, refreshing their browsers until the next installment appeared. “It had tremendous impact,” Temple said, recalling a community meeting that drew 800 people in response to the series. “It was a big deal.”

“We did a couple of those public forums,” Vaughan said. “In one of them, somebody asked John Temple how long the series was going to be on the Internet, and John said, ‘Forever.’”

In 2008, Vaughan was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for the series. The next year, the Rocky folded. And in the months that followed, the website slowly broke apart. One day, without warning, “The Crossing” evaporated from the Internet.

… Many of the never-before-published documents and photographs Vaughan unearthed became key components of the web series, appearing only online and not in printed versions of the series. These weren’t just extras, but key chapters of the story, told digitally. And when the website disintegrated after the Rocky’s closure, these stories weren’t relegated to an old box on an unreachable shelf; they were gone.

 Arts writer Orit Gat spotted this delicious detail in a New York Times profile of a San Francisco crime figure: he’s represented by a lawyer who also happens to be artist Richard Serra’s estranged brother:

Shrimp Boy and his lead lawyer, J. Tony Serra, are both characters from a bygone San Francisco. Shrimp Boy describes Serra, who is 80, as ‘‘an old, very old wizard.’’ Earlier in his career, in 1979, Serra successfully defended the Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton against the charge of murdering a prostitute. He has also represented members of the Hells Angels, Earth First! and the Symbionese Liberation Army, the revolutionary group that kidnapped Patty Hearst. His office is filled with threadbare furniture and Grateful Dead posters, as well as posters featuring the work of his younger brother, the sculptor Richard Serra. They have been estranged for almost 40 years, since their mother committed suicide by walking into the Pacific Ocean.

 According to a recently published study, Miami, New Orleans, and a number of other US cities are already beyond the point of being saved from rising sea levels:

YouTube video

 Danny Meyer is eliminating all tipping at his restaurants and significantly raising prices to make up the difference, a move that will “raise wages, save the hospitality industry, and forever change how diners dine”:

The American system of tipping is awkward for all parties involved: restaurant patrons are expected to have the expertise to motivate and properly remunerate service professionals; servers are expected to please up to 1,000 different employers (for most of us, one boss is enough!); and restaurateurs surrender their use of compensation as an appropriate tool to reward merit and promote excellence … Imagine, if to prompt better service from your shoe salesman, you had to tip on the cost of your shoes, factoring in your perception of his shoe knowledge and the number of trips he took to the stockroom in search of your size. As a customer, isn’t it less complicated that the service he performs is included in the price of your shoes?

 Here’s what politics looks like when you remove all the men:


 An Amazonian tribe has created a 500-page traditional medicine encyclopedia (emphasis mine):

The Matsés have only printed their encyclopedia in their native language to ensure that the medicinal knowledge is not stolen by corporations or researchers as has happened in the past. Instead, the encyclopedia is meant as a guide for training new, young shamans in the tradition and recording the living shamans’ knowledge before they pass.

 Ebony takes on the Bill Cosby controversy with its new cover, proving magazine covers can still stir debate. The comments on Facebooks are extensive:


 Some “short boyfriend” gets a complex as his girlfriend looks at Classical male nude marble sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.