Perfume Genius’ Twitter, ‘Shuffle Along,’ and More: Today’s Recommended Reading

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Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. Today, there’s an interview with Perfume Genius, one of Twitter’s all-time greats, an in-depth look at the destruction of Japan’s video game history, an essay about watching a loved one’s inevitable aging, and the importance of Broadway musical Shuffle Along.

Earlier this week, we posted about things in pop culture that give us hope. One of them was Perfume Genius’ Twitter feed. Luckily, the singer did an interview with Paper magazine, which ran today! Singer Mike Hadreas’ responses are typically sharp, and nothing makes me happier than when he describes himself as a “gloomy bitch.”

I may wink in some of my lyrics, but for the most part my music is deadly serious. I am a silly bitch, but I’m also a gloomy bitch. Those two extremes aren’t far apart for me — when something shitty happens I either laugh about it or spin out and eventually need to sit down at the piano. There is no real in-between. Just different ways to process and cope I guess.

BuzzFeed Reader is a new site devoted to quality writing, including essays, poetry, and fiction. There Diksha Basu wrote a moving essay about her grandmother, who lives in India and is growing to be quite old. The way Basu writes of her grandmother’s strengths while observing her growing frailty is universal and devastating, a must-read.

But my fear isn’t just about her dying. Or me dying, or anyone dying. Before death there are the potential years of being alone, especially for women, who tend to outlive their partners. There are years of losing your health. There are years of living invisible to most of the world. Now it is getting to be my grandmother’s time and then it will be my parents’ time and one day it will be my time – it is inescapable and knowing this is terrifying.

The New York Times Magazine has an extremely long and very important history of Shuffle Along. The piece, written by John Jeremiah Sullivan, looks at the play’s origins and also tells the story of its revival. The bits about the beginnings of “blacks-in-blackface” are especially interesting, but the whole thing is more than worth your time.

The tradition of blacks-­in-­blackface was sparked, according to one account, by the circus impresario P.T. Barnum one day in the early 1840s. He had a white kid in one of his shows, a boy by the name of Diamond, who specialized in what was called Juba or Juber dancing. Also “patting Juba.” That meant African dancing, plantation dancing. Expressive, complex, physically taxing. In Juba, you drum on your body, slapping your chest and knees and the soles of your feet. Certain familiar Celtic elements had been mixed into it over the decades and centuries, most obviously the percussive effect of hard-­soled shoes on a wooden floor, which could work as a drum during the dance (think clogging). It was with Juba as inspiration that blacks and Irish-­Americans created what we call tap. Or rather, that’s the kind of simplistic explanation that an actual dance scholar would quibble with every word of, but it’s trueish.

KillScreen has a studied investigation into the destruction of Japan’s video game history, both literally and figuratively. Within this telling we learn of the secrecy around Nintendo’s early days, as well as how Nintendo’s eventual rapid growth impacted the building-scape of Japan.

Nintendo has certainly never ignored its past, and in fact has chronicled much of its history in former Iwata Asks website interviews with senior Nintendo staff. Nintendo New York (previously known as Nintendo World) and Pokémon Centers in Japan serve as both company stores and showrooms for new games. Nintendo New York in particular has exhibited items from Nintendo’s legacy, from game design documents to its vast line of handhelds.