- The story of the world’s biggest Pokémon card collector, known to fans as King Pokémon, because why not. It’s written by Brendan Bures for Input:
The collecting bug first struck Haase as a kid growing up in Hollywood in the 1950s, starting with Coke bottle caps. Once, Haase’s dad helped him tie a magnet at the end of a fishing rod to collect caps people had popped off and left behind in vending machine boxes. No one in the family had this impulse besides Gary. If something no longer had a use, his dad, who ran his own electrician company, and mom, a personal assistant to actress Lucille Ball, couldn’t throw it away fast enough.
From bottle caps, he graduated to collecting comic books, rock posters, old sci-fi pulp magazines, and his personal favorite, trading cards. He owns (or has owned) complete sets of virtually every trading card game in existence, including television tie-ins for Sailor Moon and The Addams Family.
Today, Haase calls himself a “collectible hoarder,” meaning he hoards nothing but his collectibles. He’s got three storage lockers and three safety deposit boxes dedicated to all his stuff. Haase confesses that 90 percent of the things he collects are completely worthless, but he doesn’t care.
“Just about everything in my collection, if you were to hold it up in front of me and ask me about it, I can tell you the whole story about it,” Haase says. “I might not remember my wife’s birthday, but I’ll remember those things.”
- David Klion considers the new documentary about the 9/11 Museum and all the battles that rage around it:
But his central argument, which the filmmakers share, is a serious one: that the purpose of a museum should be for raising questions, provoking dialogue, fostering independent scholarship and research, and allowing for a range of interpretations. All of this, The Outsider charges, the 9/11 Museum fails to do.
Museum officials exercised their right to review the film prior to its release and submitted a list of dozens of requested edits, ranging from spelling errors to more substantive criticisms of taste and appropriateness surrounding particular scenes and remarks — most of which the filmmakers ignored. There is clearly no love lost between the filmmakers and the museum staff. Lee Cochran, a spokeswoman for the museum, told me in a statement: “The film looks at the Museum through a very specific ideological lens which we do not share. At a moment when so many institutions in the U.S. are subject to ideological and partisan divisions, the Memorial & Museum must remain a sacred space that seeks to educate and unify. We made clear to the filmmakers that we were disappointed by many of their decisions, which we think are disrespectful towards victims and their families.”
- NFTs are becoming a new frontier for fraudsters and Kelly Crow of WSJ reports. Listen here.
- The story of how one award-winning Reuters photographer, Danish Siddiqui, was killed during the evacuations in Afghanistan:
First reports indicated Siddiqui was killed in crossfire while trying to take photographs in the bazaar at Spin Boldak, a hotly contested Afghan border crossing with Pakistan. But an examination of Siddiqui’s communications with Reuters and accounts from an Afghan Special Forces commander show that Siddiqui was first injured by shrapnel from a rocket. He was evacuated to a local mosque for treatment. And he was killed, according to the top Afghan officer, after being abandoned with two soldiers in the confusion of a retreat.
Major-General Haibatullah Alizai, who was the commander of Afghanistan’s Special Operations Corps when it hosted Siddiqui in Kandahar, told Reuters it was evident now that, in fierce fighting, his soldiers withdrew from Spin Boldak and left behind Siddiqui and two commandos accompanying him, mistakenly thinking they had joined the retreating convoy. His account was corroborated by four soldiers who say they witnessed the attack.
“They were left there,” Alizai said.
- Karren Attiah, who is a must-read on the Washington Post‘s Opinions pages, points out that the recent Tiffany’s stunt with the Basquiat and diamond is a strange thing to aspire to. She writes:
Tiffany may be trying to rebrand, but it has badly misjudged the ethos of the moment. Its campaign does not celebrate Black liberation — it elevates a painful symbol of colonialism. It presents an ostentatious display of wealth as a sign of progress in an age when Black Americans possess just 4 percent of the United States’s total household wealth. If Black success is defined by being paid to wear White people’s large colonial diamonds, then we are truly still in the sunken place.
- Dan Hancox and Kasia Tomasiewicz, writing for Coda, discuss how children’s toys may be normalizing the concept of surveillance:
With the arrival of the War on Terror at the start of the 21st century, toys began to reflect the changing nature of western military and security priorities. After the end of the Cold War, the U.S Department of Defense and the security services of western governments were increasingly focused on the idea that “war had come home” — and, with the 9/11 attacks on New York City, it had. Under President George W. Bush in the U.S. and Prime Minister Tony Blair in the U.K., an explosion of urban surveillance and advanced security tech took place, accompanied by paranoia about clandestine terrorist cells and widespread hostility toward Muslims. This invisible threat turned western cities into potential conflict zones, particularly their public spaces and transport hubs.
The War on Terror also allowed for the establishment of what the Italian philosopher Georgio Agamben has termed a “state of exception” — a moment of crisis during which unprecedented and often legally dubious legislation is passed or enacted in the interests of public safety and national security. This idea is exhibited most starkly in the extradition, detention and torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and covert tactics such as extraordinary rendition. Perhaps its most insidious manifestation is to be found in the intensifying levels of state surveillance to which citizens of nations across the world are now subject.
- Remember when corporations in the US pledged $50 billion towards racial justice after George Floyd’s death? Writing for the Washington Post, Tracy Jan, Jena McGregor, and Meghan Hoyer find out where that money actually went:
To date, America’s 50 biggest public companies and their foundations collectively committed at least $49.5 billion since Floyd’s murder last May to addressing racial inequality — an amount that appears unequaled in sheer scale.
Looking deeper, more than 90 percent of that amount — $45.2 billion — is allocated as loans or investments they could stand to profit from, more than half in the form of mortgages. Two banks — JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America — accounted for nearly all of those commitments.
Meanwhile, $4.2 billion of the total pledged is in the form of outright grants. Of that, companies reported just a tiny fraction — about $70 million — went to organizations focused specifically on criminal justicereform, the cause that sent millions into the streets protesting Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer.
The $4.2 billion in grants, to be disbursed over as long as a decade in some cases, represents less than 1 percent of the $525.6 billion in net income earned by the 50 companies in the most recent year, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
- One of the best pieces I’ve read about the end of the US occupation of Afghanistan. It’s by Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale, two authors with strong records of scholarship, organizing, and observation. It reads:
Afghans had hoped for development that could lift both the rich and the poor. It seemed like such an obvious, and such an easy thing to do. But they did not understand American policy abroad. And they did not understand the deep dedication of the 1% in the United States to spiraling inequality in their own country.
So American money poured into Afghanistan. But it went the people in the new government headed by Hamid Karzai. It went to the people working with the Americans and the occupying troops of other nations. And it went to the warlords and their entourages who were deeply involved in the international opium and heroin trade facilitated by the CIA and the Pakistani military. It went to the people lucky enough to own luxury, well-defended homes in Kabul they could rent out to expatriate staff. It went to the men and women who worked in foreign-funded NGOs.
- A great thread about how big-box stores have taken advantage of cities and proved how awful they can be to communities that were trying to build tax revenue (it was all a mirage):
- Artist and activist Bree Newsome breaks down the way “woke” has been coopted, transformed, and actively misconstrued by an establishment eager to erase gains in civil rights, economic justice, and other issues particularly of importance to Black Americans (the whole thread is quite good):
- A perfect image of the US right now (in case you don’t know about the milkcrate challenge, FYI):
Required Reading has been published every Saturday, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look. Starting next week Required Reading will start appearing on Fridays.