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The Anne-with-an-E and Diana Barry of newsletters is peeking out of our midterms bunker with cautious relief and a taste for trippin’ chicken.
What would make the perfect women’s magazine? Juicy yarns, big ideas, deeply personal examinations of women’s lives—and none of the advertiser obligations. Welcome to the Spread, where every week two editors read, listen, and watch it all, and deliver only the best to your inbox.
Because we are 12, we got a laugh this morning from the editors of Time magazine, gleefully putting their euphemisms to work in—dare we call it—a flood of menstrual language. Seems like a weird kind of poetic justice after the kind of year American women have been having? It started with the headline: The Red Wave Was More Like a Pink Splash. And then there was this: “As Washington woke up Tuesday morning, the consensus among establishment-minded insiders pointed to a red wave, one that would easily give Republicans a majority in the House and better-than-even odds at winning the Senate. As Washington dozed off Tuesday evening, things were far more hazy, with a crimson tsunami failing to wash Democrats from their House majority and pick-up chances in the Senate seeming to downgrade from hurricane to a drizzle.” Dems went to the polls ready to get our asses handed to us, and woke up this morning feeling like we mostly held the line. And in an election transformed by the worst blow to women’s rights in 50 years, Vermont, Michigan, and California enshrined abortion rights in their state constitutions. We’ll take it. Jubilant as we are, though, the last few days have found your Spreaditors felled by norovirus, work deadlines, travel, and the pre-K-birthday-party industrial complex—LIFE!!—and so today we bring you this quick-hits version of the Spread. Come on back next week for our usual full-fat format, ya hear?
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Rachel & Maggie
Hit me baby one more time.
Between the flood of articles, the New York Times/Hulu doc, and the Netflix doc, we didn’t think we needed any more reporting on Britney Spears and daddy Jamie. But New York magazine’s Kerry Howley is so good! In this week’s cover story, she skips the details of Britney’s much-dissected conservatorship and goes deeper focusing on the why: “why a father would seek to exert dictatorial control over the hour-by-hour life of his adult daughter.” Even Rachel, who grew up only a few towns over from Brit, was stunned by Jamie’s—and thus Britney’s—horrifying origin story.
Read “The Curse of Kentwood” here.
♬ ♬ Brigitte Lacombe portraits and Celine sunglasses! Punchy white sofas and trippy glass vases! Bundles of notebooks all tied up with string, these are a few of Joan’s favorite things!♬♬
If any of our loved ones happen to be doing a little early holiday shopping: A ton of Joan Didion’s personal objets are up for auction. Harper’s Bazaar fashion critic Rachel Tashjian—arguably the best fashion writer in magazineland today: We loved her at GQ and are so happy to see her on the lady beat at HB—does a bang-up job reconciling the most mundane of Didion’s possessions with the internet’s recently burnished vision of Didion as an object herself.
Read the piece here.
Bless her heart?
A friend of Rachel’s who knows her well—including that she loves nothing more than a skeptical profile of an evangelical superstar on the rise—sent her this Cosmopolitan article on Sadie Robertson Huff, “the Duck Dynasty star turned faith influencer [who] has given zillennial Christianity a seductive rebrand,” by Allison Theresa. As the kids say, it hits (do they still say this?).
Read “She’s Preaching Submissive Womanhood. Should You Listen?” here.
If the Red Flood had, in fact, risen, we were just going to send you this one story, and then go back to bed.
New Yorker genius Jia Tolentino, who apparently has brain cells to spare—must be nice!—is never shy about her taste for hallucinogens. In Bon Appetit, she shares the secret to a great trip: First, cook a great chicken. Well, obviously.
On a related note, as Maggie remains stuck on the sidelines of the psychedelic-olution—Will she? Won’t she? We just don’t see why don’t she!—Popular Science edges the conversation along with a look at four entrepreneurs (all women or people of color) bringing peyote, ketamine, and mescaline closer to your therapy sessions/girls’ weekend/PTO fundraiser. (Ok we ad-libbed that last part, but stay tuned for our screenplay about a couple of moms trippin’ balls at the PTO!1)
Read Tolentino’s sort-of recipe here.
To read Pop Sci’s “Open Minds,” support print (!!) and purchase their Winter 2022 issue (theme: “High”) or find it on Apple News.
Love her, actually and always.
Emma Thompson, who has three movies this year, got a full, juicy New Yorker profile this week, by ole John Lahr. We found it, like Thompson in general, quite soothing—especially as an audio story read by another Emma (Gregory), who has a pleasing, somewhat Thompson-esque lilt. An excellent bedtime listen.
Read “Emma Thompson’s Third Act” here.
You may have heard that we’ve been eagerly awaiting this Oscar season’s trio of #MeToo movies. Slate movie critic Dana Stevens expertly put them into context this week with her triple-review of She Said, Tar, and Women Talkin2.
Read “This Year’s Best #MeToo Movie Isn’t the One About Harvey Weinstein” here.
May these women of taste rest in power.
Legendary food critic Gael Greene, whom we shamefully did not know enough about, died last week, at 88. Adam Platt has a rip-roaring obit that seems to do her justice. What a life! Who smells a biopic?
Food-blogging pioneer Julie Powell, made immortal by Amy Adams in Julie & Julia, also died this week, at 49. (Devastating.) In the New York Times, Frank Bruni credits Powell with democratizing who gets a seat at the food-writer’s table, “showing that it could and perhaps should be breached by people who came to it not with a gastronome’s formal training and fancy vocabulary but with passion, with personality, with Tums.” In Bon App, Emily Farris wrote a tribute to Powell, the writer and the friend: “When I was broke and in between apartments, she paid me to house sit when I probably should have been paying her to sublet. When I cracked the screen on my laptop a few weeks before my book was due, she took me to the Mac store and fronted me the money for a new one until I got my next advance check from the publisher. And when I found myself without a place to stay in Austin while covering a food blogging panel, she sent me to her parents’ house.” That’s a true Spread woman for you, folks.
Read Platt on Greene here.
Read Bruni on Powell here.
Read Farris on Powell here.
Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs and White Stripes and and and…
Spread-adjacent writer Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom, the definitive oral history of the aughts rock renaissance, has spawned a documentary, streaming on Showtime beginning November 25 (that’s Black Friday, which we do not celebrate). Congrats to Lizzy, whose conversation with Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield serves as an excellent and economical primer for the 640-page book (we told you: definitive!) and 107-minute doc.
Read “The Fast Times and Bizarrely Long Afterlife of the New York 2000s Rock Explosion” here.
The Atlantic has a habit of bugging the phone calls of your Spreaditors, and producing stories on topics we were just talking about. We feel so seen!
In “The Decline of Etiquette and the Rise of ‘Boundaries,’” Michael Waters traces the history of conversational etiquette in the face of (deep breath, Gen Xers) the TikTok-era backlash against oversharing. Because, ya know, now they have boundaries. Read it here.
And now for a sports story!
Kind of. The New York Times digs into the lucrative endorsement deals being made with hottie athletes with big social media footprints. Could there be a downside to this trend?!?!
Spread Oracle: Whither Stacey Abrams?
MB: Rachel, does a second defeat for the same seat—by the same bilious opponent, Brian Kemp—spell an end to Abrams’s once-seemingly unstoppable political future?
RB: Last night totally means the end, Maggie. Abrams is an amazing organizer who’s done as much as she can for Georgia—and all of us—with her own name on the bumper sticker. Now we need her to switch gears back to using her brilliance for organizing behind the scenes, or maybe as part of the Biden administration. I love her, I am sad, but Governor Abrams isn’t happening anytime soon.
In closing, a few things we will not be covering this week:
Johnny Depp’s involvement in Rihanna’s fashion show.
Kanye West continuing to be Kanye West.
This new cover:
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Or not. Says Rachel: “Am I one of the moms? I don’t want to trip and definitely not balls.” Tough crowd around here today!
I saw Women Talking, directed by Spread icon Sarah Polley, at the Virginia Film Festival this weekend and golly, it was incredible. I cried and cried (I’ll chalk up the second “cried” to still being hormonal…maybe forever hormonal?) and laughed a little, too. Strap on your Mennonite bonnet—or make a statement and don’t!—and point your horse and buggy toward the movie theater posthaste!—Rachel
Readers: Have youuuuu had Botox shot into your jaw for teeth-grinding/TMJ fixin’ purposes? If so, Maggie is listening (through the sound of her achey-breaky-clicky jaw). What can you tell us?!?!