Recommended Reading: Klausner on Fosse, Press Release Hackers, and the End of ‘The Break’


Modern online media is all about the signal boost, so every Friday here at Flavorwire, we take a moment to spotlight some of the best stuff we’ve read online this week. Today, breakdowns of a 30-year-old crime and a modern cybercrime, an insightful commentary on the too-quick end of Michelle Wolf’s Netflix series, and an engaging trip through the filmography of Bob Fosse.

Julie Klausner on Fosse, Fosse, Fosse (x 3)

In early August, the fine folks at New York’s Quad Cinema ran a full retrospective of Bob Fosse’s too-brief film career, including his five directorial efforts, a TV special, and three films in which he choreographed and appeared. Friend of the site Julie Klausner, to escape “a heat wave so brutal that it evoked the notion of Hell having only been a metaphor for climate change,” attended every damn event, and wrote the series up, in diary form, for the New Yorker. It’s both a nuanced appreciation of Fosse’s art and a wonderful, uproarious piece of film writing; it seems sort of unfair that, in addition to her own work, Klausner is better at my job than I am.

Gwen Verdon’s dancing is archery: she is a bull’s-eye-bound soaring arrow shooting straight from Fosse’s bow. As lush and as juicily sublime as Ann Reinking was dancing for Fosse later, Gwen Verdon was the “A” in the alphabet, the gold standard, an apple, a red ribbon with freckled shoulders. Her singing and dancing “Whatever Lola Wants” to Tab Hunter in the locker room is canon. You must watch it on YouTube this instant. Fosse has an exhaustive record of both objectifying women and, also, letting female performers make fun of their sex appeal by being so hyperbolically feminine that it’s funny. Lola as seductress is a joke that I didn’t get when I was a little girl; I took it for granted that, in order to seduce a man, you affect a coochie-coochie quasi-Latinx accent and strip down to a merry widow from a mariachi-themed American Girl doll ensemble. I now see that everything Gwen’s Lola does to “seduce” is drag; it’s a parody of femaleness.

Lara Zarum on the end of The Break

Flavorwire alum Zarum has been doing sharp, thoughtful work over at The Village Voice, so her thoughts on Netflix’s abrupt cancellation of The Break with Michelle Wolf, pointedly titled “Michelle Wolf Was Never Gonna Be Your Jon Stewart, America,” are an essential post-mortem of this too-brief series.

Despite The Break’s unapologetically liberal, feminist perspective — in one segment, Wolf presented a literal “salute to abortions” — the series didn’t only go after predictable targets of liberal indignation. The Break hit a high note in its eighth episode, which demonstrated the show’s stubborn refusal to pander to its left-leaning audience. Since this is a comedy show in 2018, Wolf declares at the beginning of a desk segment, one thing’s for sure — it’s going to be “sincere and angry.” “There will be graphics and facts,” she intones with rehearsed self-importance, “and it will feel a little bit like school.” She then proceeds to take apart the standard structure of such a segment, ending with a middle finger raised and a bleeped-out, “Fuck you, Trump!” The crowd applauds wildly as the words “standing ovation” appear in block letters on the screen. The bit takes aim at the slightly smug, self-congratulatory tone of so much political satire these days: Can you believe I, a mere entertainer, have to do the media’s job?

Isobel Koshiw explains “How an International Hacker Network Turned Stolen Press Releases Into $100 Million”

Koshiw’s Verge deep-dive into “what law enforcement would later call one of the largest securities fraud cases in US history” is as detailed as a documentary and paced like a techno-thriller, in which a shadowy crew of European hackers and middle-men gained access to heavily embargoed press releases – sent to companies like Business Wire, PR Newswire, and Marketwired – and used the information within them to manipulate the stock market. Here’s an example of how it worked:

For someone like Korchevsky, a registered US investment adviser with over a decade of experience, the stolen press releases were easy money. On August 3rd, 2011, a press release from Dendreon Pharmaceuticals was uploaded on PR Newswire at 3:34PM and published less than 30 minutes later at 4:01PM, just after the markets closed. The release announced the company’s new drug would not meet its forecasted sales target. At 3:56PM, when it had yet to be published and four minutes before the markets closed, Korchevsky purchased 1,100 put options, a contract giving the ability to sell the stock at a specific price within a specific time period. The next day, Dendreon’s stock fell 67 percent and Korchevsky sold his put options for a profit of more than $2.3 million.

Tim Mansel on the 30th anniversary of the Gladbeck Hostage Drama

And finally, for the BBC, Mansel tells the gripping story of the Gladbeck Hostage Drama – which began on August 16, 30 summers ago – in which a bank robbery and hostage situation turned into a scorching indictment of the journalists who, “finding themselves with extraordinary access to a crime in progress, hampered police attempts to bring it to a peaceful conclusion.”

Dozens of journalists and onlookers press up against the car. They poke their microphones and cameras through the open windows. Silke Bischoff, a gun pressed to her neck, answers a reporter’s questions with a weak smile. Degowski, clearly showing the effects of the beer and amphetamines that have kept him going, boasts that he’s already killed someone. Rösner repeats his mantra that they’re not going to give themselves up. A photographer arrives and calmly sets up a stepladder to create an angle for her shot. And there’s footage of a TV reporter preparing his interview and noticing that Degowski has his gun in his lap. “Should we have the pistol at her head?” he asks his cameraman. All ethical boundaries have evaporated.