Fiona Apple’s ‘Tidal,’ Donald Trump’s Stomach-Churning RNC Speech, Portland’s Racist History: This Week’s Recommended Reading


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 Internet are doing, too. This week, we have a piece on the 20th anniversary of Fiona Apple’s Tidal, a look at the racist historical foundations of the city we often think of as a hub for white progressivism, comments on Trump’s chilling RNC acceptance speech and the manifold dangers of his potential presidency, and more.

In The Atlantic, Alana Semuels writes about how a racist climate in Portland — which is the whitest city in the country, though it’s also seen by many as a beacon of progressivism — is derived from a history steeped in discrimination. She notes how Oregon was the only state in the country that, on entering the Union in 1859, refused residency to black people. Semuels writes:

In more recent times, the city repeatedly undertook “urban renewal” projects (such as the construction of Legacy Emanuel Hospital) that decimated the small black community that existed here. And racism persists today. A 2011 audit found that landlords and leasing agents here discriminated against black and Latino renters 64 percent of the time, citing them higher rents or deposits and adding on additional fees. In area schools, African American students aresuspended and expelled at a rate four to five times higher than that of their white peers… All in all, historians and residents say, Oregon has never been particularly welcoming to minorities. Perhaps that’s why there have never been very many. Portland is the whitest big city in America, with a population that is 72.2 percent white and only 6.3 percent African American.

The New Yorker ran a piece interviewing Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s 1987 memoir/entrepreneurial how-to hybrid The Art of the Deal, on his impressions of the man, following Schwartz’s growing worry that Trump could land the role of POTUS. Jane Mayer interviewed Schwartz:

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

The Daily Beast and the New York Times, meanwhile, fact-checked Donald Trump’s fear-mongering RNC acceptance speech — which appealed to xenophobes and white supremacists with its sweeping statements about immigrants — and found it (surprise!) laden, as Daily Beast’s Andrew Desiderio puts it, with “over-inflated statistics and generalizations.” Here’s a snippet from NYT’s fact-check:

• “The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 percent compared to this point last year.” Fact Check: In fact, the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks officer deaths, reports that 68 police officers have been killed so far this year, almost exactly the same as the 69 who were killed in the same period last year.

But if all of that’s going on with a world in which Trump can speak for 75 minutes at the Republican National Convention — let alone possibly become President — is one of many things leading you to the conclusion that this is one of the worst years in history, Rebecca Onion pondered what that might even mean, and asked historians to pick their own personal idea of the “worst” year in history for Slate:Have terrifying events truly piled up on each other in 2016, in a way they didn’t in any other year in human history? Or is it impossible to judge the awfulness of a year while it’s still unfolding? Do we just notice negative happenings more these days because of our high levels of connectivity? And what does “worst year” even mean—“worst year” for Americans, for humanity, for the planet? The question of how to determine a “worst year” in history piqued my interest. So I decided to ask a group of historians to nominate their own “worst years” and to reflect on what constitutes a “really bad year.” Ten brave souls agreed to play this parlor game with me. Here are their picks.Perhaps it’s best to conclude with something to celebrate; Fiona Apple’s debut album, Tidal (released when she was 18) turned 20 today, and Pitchfork released a piece reminiscing particularly on the force of the album’s opener, “Sleep to Dream.” Jenn Pelly writes:

“Sleep to Dream” is reportedly the first lyric that Fiona ever penned. She was 14. She sounds not slightly evil, a storm simmering, about to thunder from the skies. Fiona once said that “if you just made something, you should fucking feel like you’ve got nothing left in you,” and even then she had buckets of life to pour in. (Her parents divorced young; she was taunted by classmates; at 12, she was raped outside of her mother’s apartment; she developed an eating disorder.) As a child, Fiona used a knife to carve the word “STRONG” into her closet. She tattooed “FHW,” an acronym for “Fiona Has Wings,” onto her back. Her language always cuts to marrow. “Sleep to Dream” gave me wings, too. It is about getting ready to fly.