LETTER ON AMERICA NO.1 - GOODBYE TO TRUMP: A STUDY IN FAILURE
BY EMMETT SULLIVAN
Patrick Bateman, Bret Easton Ellis’ anti-hero from American Psycho, worshiped Donald Trump for his success. Perhaps that should have been enough of a warning for us – that a fictional, delusional, psychopath wanted to be Donald Trump. Fiction and delusion have been hallmarks of the Trump Presidency, as the resurgent sales of Orwell’s 1984 testified to in 2016: Americans wanted a glimpse of their future. As for the psychology of the Forty-Fifth President: it is unwise for professionals in the field to make clinical assessments in the media of Trump’s state of mind – which a number in America have done - without proper medical consultation with the subject himself. That said…:
If you invite your supporters to attend a protest that ‘will be wild’; on the day, you address a mass rally and tell them ‘if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore’; and then disrespect your loyal deputy and the political party that supported you publicly, for following constitutional provisions, then – at best – your judgement must be questioned. Poor judgement which contributed to the needless death of five people. It is oft said that a politician’s career ends in failure: Donald Trump’s has been nothing but that – failure which surpasses that of Hoover and Nixon.
It is difficult for the British to appreciate the American political landscape. The U.S. Democratic party maps to the British Tories. There is no meaningful ‘left’ in American politics; there is hardly a ‘centre’ to speak of: to be labelled a liberal is generally a term of abuse. Few, however, want to tap into the radical right or the far right for support to further their political careers. Steve Bannon understood, however, that a disaffected and de-aligned right in America was looking for a voice: Bannon’s late inclusion on Trump’s campaign team won the 2016 Presidential election. After 45 years of the neo-classical revival in economics morphing to a neo-libertarian orthodoxy in America, courting the radical and far right without being damned as being ‘of them’ became feasible. They even rebranded themselves to appear acceptable: the ‘alt-right’ was born.
Although Governments in Sweden, Hungry and Brazil might indicate otherwise, the ‘national populism’ movement may have burnt itself out as a political force. Britain has ‘Brexited’, and Nigel Farage is going through another rebranding of his political party. Marine Le Pen may have lost the French Presidential election, but she still garnered a third of the popular vote; and may be a credible candidate again for 2022. There still is an appetite for this brand of ‘anti-modernity’: Trump polled over 74m votes in 2020, which is more than any other presidential candidate since 1945, whether Republican, Democrat or independent. Bar one – Joe Biden, with 81,283,485 votes. ‘National populism’ hasn’t gone away; but it has galvanised those opposed to it to a far greater degree.
THE REVOLVING DOOR
Steve Bannon’s departure from the Trump White House was not the first from Team Trump, but with regards to a second term, it was possibly the most significant. Bannon left in August 2017, not long after the Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally; and was derided by Trump thereafter as the principal source for Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. This illustrated three trends in the Trump Presidency: the ‘revolving door’ of the Trump cabinet; ‘unattributed’ briefings on a dysfunctional administration; and ‘kiss and tell’ revelations.
There were those, of course, who never got on the bandwagon to begin with. President George H W Bush – Bush41 – dismissed Trump as a ‘blowhard’, and voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. This may also be true of his son, Bush43; but President George W Bush distinguished himself in a way he rarely did in office by calling out Washington under Trump thus: “I don’t like the racism and I don’t like the name-calling and I don’t like the people feeling alienated”. Although slightly hackneyed and outdated in its phrasing, Bush43 summed up the storming of the Capital in stinging terms: ‘this is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic”. The use of the fruit analogy may hark back to nineteenth century colonialism (and might be otherwise avoided), but as an indication of the Trump mentality, it encapsulates his backwardness.
For those who did sign on, many did not do so for long. Four Secretaries of Sate (two acting); six National Security Advisors (two acting); five Secretaries for Defence (with three acting, including temporarily Mark Esper before returning permanently a month later): none of this speaks of stability. Even those who have tolerated Trump for his term are leaving: “…[W]e are left to clean up the mess caused by violent protestors overrunning the U.S. Capital … There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation” (Betsy DeVos resignation letter, U.S. Secretary of Education 2017-21, 08JAN21). There is always a certain turnover in each administration; but in the case of Trump, this has become a churn, unless you are a direct relative, of course.
For those who are not part of the immediate Trump family, this discontent has regularly surfaced in print. One of the most astonishing aspects of this was Trump himself giving Bob Woodward taped interviews: Trump had either not read Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House (2018), or didn’t care. The resulting book Rage (2020) showed Trump in no better light; neither did John Bolton’s 2020 book on his time as National Security Advisor in the Trump White House – a book Trump tried to have banned.
The Bolton book aside, it wasn’t just Trump who didn’t care about the allegations of ‘locker room banter’, trysts and payoffs with an adult film star, an affair with a Playboy centrefold, ill-tempered and ill-judged tantrums over policy, nepotism … frankly anything: Trump supporters were not deflected – his national electoral vote went up by 11,231,894 2016-20. This is where the modern phenomenon of fragmented internet communities becomes a problem. It does not matter what the ‘general consensus’ is, there will always be a news source which fits more with your views and opinions. That has always been the case; but now there is a justification why you can ignore ‘the truth’, spurious though this reason is: it must be ‘fake news’.
THE NEW CREDULOUS SOCIETY
Donald Trump’s greatest legacy may be the creation of word salads, the ingredients of which are unfathomable. ‘Bigly’ apparently existed before Trump, but it is unlikely any single individual has ever used the term as frequently. The Atlantic, politely, listed out Trumps ‘vague source attribution’, which has allowed him to make unsubstantiated claims, ambiguously on the surface, which become a certainty to his true believers. Should anyone contradict him publicly: ‘FAKE NEWS’! That retort is tired, objectionable, and infuriating – it takes away any common basis for discussion. Which may be the point. The Kennedy brothers 1961-63 were whip sharp in complaining to the media if they felt they had been misrepresented. There was, however, some decorum in this dialogue with the press: President Kennedy did not personally shout down and deride reporters in open press conferences, as Trump has done repeatedly, from before his inauguration. There is a liberal bias to the U.S. media; but that does not mean they are wrong.
Trump’s recourse has been to Twitter – to communicate directly to his congregation unfiltered from this media bias. Twitter is a commercial organisation, selling advertising space alongside the message feeds. Trump’s 88m followers on @realDonaldTrump was the sort of audience Twitter wanted to tap into. Not anymore, however. It might be that Trump was tolerated by the Republican Party, and social media outlets, while he brought them a return. He may not be ‘fake news’; but he will soon be yesterday’s news. It will be President Biden on 20 January 2021. Donald Trump now shares the notoriety of being permanently banned from Twitter along with Katie Hopkins – a commentator Trump regularly re-tweeted. Dumped by Facebook as well, repudiated by Republican Senators, and now impeached by the House of Representatives for a second time –– all these are limiting his relevancy for America. If 17 Republican Senators vote with the Democrats and independents when the impeachment comes to trial, Trump would be barred from holding Federal office in the future – killing his vaunted 2024 bid for the Presidency dead, and sparing the Republicans further embarrassment: for a man who turned the U.S. Presidency into a reality TV show, this may be the ultimate failure.
There is no border wall between Mexico and the United States. The Swamp has not been drained. Climate change denial has become Trump administration policy. There is no revival of the coal mining industry. The military threat from North Korea still exists, and Iran no longer feels constrained in developing its nuclear technology. The Affordable Care Act (‘Obama Care’) has not been repealed or revised. It is difficult to see why Trump supporters think his time in office has been successful. Essentially, Trump has been a ‘do nothing’ President; and that is the source of his ‘success’. A broadly conservative policy, with little action beyond tax cuts and further deregulation, suits many. Economic growth and job creation up to February 2020 might have been enough to have seen him re-elected. Covid-19 changed all of that. Federal policy and the commitment by Trump to deal effectively with the pandemic has been piecemeal at best.
At worst: as of 8 January 2021, 356,229 Americans have died of coronavirus; the CDC are projecting by the end of January that number will be as high as 438,000. Let’s put that last figure into perspective: it represents SEVEN times the number of deaths suffered by American combatants in the Vietnam War. No presidential term which ends with such little regard for the population, never mind the rule of law and the Constitution, can be judged a success.
I am an illustrator from London who graduated with a degree in BA Illustration from the University of Brighton in the UK. Influenced by the whimsical works of Dr. Seuss and the cartoons I watched growing up, I enjoy creating characters and stories that enchant and make people laugh. Using vivid colours and inspired by nature and animals as well as my love of food, my illustrations are bright and lucid and bring the world in my imagination to life.
I believe in using art to process and understand your emotions, and aim for people to relate to and find comfort in my comics and illustrations, exploring themes of self-reflection and personal development.
Rhye - Home (Album)
Once a man hiding anonymously behind imagery of women on his artwork, Canadian singer-songwriter Rhye has built upon his discography spanning seven years. His latest effort ‘Home’ sees the artist build on his incredible voice behind emotive indie-r&b /soft pop music that dips into electronic sounds. This album has a funky feel but in a quieter manner with an increase in acoustic recording. Home connotes the literal and figurative meaning of going back to something you consider comfortable, be it an environment or person.
Swirling, lush and ambient in sound will keep you thinking during quieter moments of the day.
Come In Closer
My Heart Bleeds
Healy - Tungsten (Album)
I discovered his song ‘Unwind’ in 2017 during my second year at University. Since then, he has released a number of singles in anticipation of his follow up to his debut album ‘Subluxe’. ‘Tungsten’ seems like a continuation of what made Subluxe a pleasant listening experience. His ability to blend indie melodies with lo-fi/Hip-Hop beats has always impressed his listeners and that formula does not seem to change with this effort.
The beautiful chords in the song ‘Deep Cuts’ are worth listening to while driving somewhere serene.
Back On The Fence
Benny Sings ft Tom Misch – Nobody’s Fault (Single)
Dutch artist Benny Sings releases a new single in the form of ‘Nobody’s Fault’, featuring Londoner Tom Misch. The single is a pop tune looking back to the past with funk grooves carrying the bouncy piano in the background.
This song reminds me of a classic called ‘Lowdown’ by Boz Scaggs
Etta Bond - On A Beach, Champion Remix ft Double S (Single)
The original version of ‘On A Beach’ featuring Avelino first came out in early 2020 as part of a collection of songs called ‘2 METRES APART’ that would chronicle the love people are missing out on due to the ongoing pandemic. The song has now been revitalised into a garage cut ready to get your feet shuffling with production from Champion and verses from rapper Double S.
SZA – Good Days (Single)
The singer from St Louis released the follow up to hit single ‘Hit Different’ on Christmas Day with ‘Good Days’. ‘Good Days’ seems like an instrumental continuation from her debut album ‘Ctrl’ featuring an acoustic feel with swirling synths dominating the background of the track. Co-written with Jordan Collier, you can clearly feel the song writing influence in the guitar that Collier brings. The single alongside ‘Hit Different’ are signs that SZA is gearing up for an album release sometime in this year. Whenever she does, it’s sure to be fire.
INTERVIEW WITH ARTEMIS ACCESSORIES
BY DEVON HARVEY
January 30, 2021
What was your inspiration behind starting your business?
I set up my business in 2014 where there were very few small indie brands on Instagram, and I wanted to start my own as I frequently shopped from other jewellery brands and am a self-confessed jewellery addict! I am very inspired by Greek philosophy and mythology; the name came to me really easily!
What is your favourite product you have made so far?
My favourite products are our prints, I am so proud of how they turned out!
What is your most popular product?
Our most popular products are our mystery boxes by far - I think people really love the surprise factor.
What impact has the pandemic had on your business?
The pandemic has affected my business so positively and I'm so fortunate for the time in lockdown as it was a huge opportunity to commit to being a small business owner and really spend the time trying to grow.
Have you got any advice for anyone looking to start a small business at the moment?
My advice is that you have to find your 'Why', you have to have a goal or a business that really motivates you, as it will be your life! You have to really want to wake up every day and work your ass off - so you have to find your motivation & purpose for doing it!
Finally, if you could tell your younger self about Artemis, what would you say?
I would tell my younger self that I created a business selling jewellery and get to spend every day being creative and having so much fun! I'd say that I have an amazing team of women who work with me and that I get to decide when I work, how much I work and what to create... it's awesome!
I SHOULD BE ASLEEP
The poems I write for my father are the colour of teardrops,
or rain. Like the latter, they fall
as per the natural order of things
and look gorgeous in street light.
In their movement from my eyes to the page,
the former’s refractive qualities never cease to
astound me: settling in a smudge
so naturally that I can’t help but wonder
how I got here. I push
the back of my hand against the notebook
and in the collective streak I understand.
ENTERTAINMENT SNIPPET: 5 FILMS & SHOWS TO WATCH IN FEBRUARY
BY HARRY MEMBREY
It’s getting harder and harder to guess when and whether content will be released to the public, and we all know why at this point. But it’s still important to have entertaining content to look forward to, especially in the midst of a third lockdown.
There are plenty of movies from 2020 that have been pushed to 2021, plenty of original releases that may end up on our favourite streaming sites and plenty of movies like No Time To Die that will get pushed back even further.
With Netflix’s recently announced price-hike it seems like they may be spending more money on purchasing delayed films. But that’s pure conjuncture surrounding a production studio that likely needs more investment on original content. But distributors might look to streaming so that they can avoid a complete dissolution of anticipation altogether.
With that in mind, February becomes a strange month to predict. In the UK it’s a month that trickles in ‘Oscar-bait’, the UK release of late-2020 US movies that are looking to get attention for the big awards ceremony. There are lots of high quality releases scheduled in, but no cinemas open to show them. So take some of these suggestions with a pinch of salt as you may see them a little later or right on time at a streamer near you.
MALCOLM & MARIE - NETFLIX - FEBRUARY 5TH
Here’s the one that I’m 99.9% certain we’ll all see in the intended way. Malcolm & Marie sees John David Washington (TENET) and the now Emmy-winning Zendaya (Euphoria) teaming up with the creators of Euphoria with a film that was developed in the height of a pandemic.
It’s a stylised black and white film about a filmmaker who gets home with his girlfriend after a movie premiere and awaits imminent success. But their wait takes a turn as revelations surface and test the strength of their relationship. With a screenplay apparently written and finished in six days, it’s likely that Malcolm & Marie will lean heavily on the talent of these two actors, both on a major career-high right now. It’s not a love story, it’s the story of love.
ANOTHER ROUND - FEBRUARY 5TH
Now we’re into the unknown, where will Another Round be released to the UK? Or will this be delayed? Hopefully not, because Another Round looks like a magnificent drama.
Officially selected by the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Another Round is a Danish comedy-drama directed by Thomas Vinterberg (Far From The Madding Crowd) and stars Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale). He plays one of four teachers who drink alcohol on a daily basis to maintain a 0.5% BAL and see how it affects their social and professional lives.
It looks like a good bit of energised fun that could potentially pull on some heart strings.
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN - FEBRUARY 15TH
Promising Young Woman starring Carey Mulligan (An Education) looks particularly different to the themes of Another Round. The premise is best described as her character does in the film. Every week Mulligan’s character Cassie goes to a club, acts too drunk to stand and every week a ‘nice guy’ comes over to see if she’s okay. Every week she ousts these ‘nice guys’ in as savage a way possible.
It’s very direct in its message and tonally seems like a no strings attached, brutal take on far too common real-world occurrences. Carey Mulligan is apparently the best she’s ever been and with support from Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade), Alison Brie (Community) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being one to remember from 2021.
WANDAVISION - NOW STREAMING - DISNEY+
The first in nine episodes of Marvel’s WandaVision were released on January 15th to a solid critical reception and new episodes have been streaming every week since and will continue through February. It’s Marvel’s brave new entry to their cinematic universe starring Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Endgame) and Paul Bettany (A Knight’s Tale) as their two Avengers, Wanda and Vision.
It’s a big departure from the films we’ve seen from them in the past in two ways; the fact that it’s their first of many fully-fledged series on Disney+ and the style is that of 20th Century suburban sitcoms. That novelty seems to be the draw to WandaVision, a stylistic unpredictability that drives a mournful central plot. WandaVision is a refreshing twist to a genre that could soon stagnate and it’s worth the watch.
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH - FEBRUARY 26TH
The winner of the ‘best trailer’ award goes to Judas and the Black Messiah. It’s slick, gets the premise across clearly and doesn’t spoil a single thing about the plot whilst generating loads of excitement.
These reasons to get excited vary, but it’s Daniel Kaluuya that stands out. Directed by Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah is a biopic about the chairman of the Black Panther Party in late 1960s Illinois - Fred Hampton. The acting from Kaluuya and his supporting cast looks incredible and with a relevant, dramatic premise to work with, it surely has the potential to live up to current Oscars buzz. It premieres on HBO Max in the US on February 12th, meaning that negotiations are likely taking place over where in the UK it could make itself available on the 26th. Fingers crossed.
HONOURABLE MENTION - I CARE A LOT - NETFLIX - FEBRUARY 19TH
Just in case one or two of these picks gets inevitably pushed back to cater for a theatrical release, it’s important to have a back up these days. My choice? Netflix’s I Care A Lot starring Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike and Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage.
She’s a woman who deceives judges and makes her living by stealing from the elderly. But he’s a gangster that lands her in hot water because of a connection with her latest victim. It looks like good fun but, most of all, it looks like it’ll be released when it’s supposed to.
I’m Katie Richmond, aka @peachyinks over on Instagram. I am a 19 year old Character Designer, illustrator and animation artist working from home.
For as long as I can remember 2d animation has been all that I live and breath, admiring those such as Walt Disney, Hannah Barbera and Ardman.
As you may see all my doodles burst with colour, because I feel that if you see something that oozes happy then you yourself become happy too; the thought of bringing a pocket of joy to someone’s day is my biggest inspiration of all.
I work mainly digitally using procreate... although ye olde paper does come in handy when people watching in cafes.
Hope you enjoy browsing my artsy brain dump.
BY KATHY BALDOCK
THE HATE YOU GIVE - ANGIE THOMAS
January 30, 2021
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
With the upcoming release of Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas I had to once again read The Hate You Give. Especially as the latest book is said to be a prequel.
The Hate You Give is about how Starr deals with the aftermath of watching her childhood friend shot and killed by a police officer. Khalil had done nothing wrong. Starr is afraid to speak out about what she saw. But she is also angry, angry that the police officer that killed Khalil is likely to walk free. We see through Starr’s eyes how the media portray people like her, young and black, and living in a rough neighbourhood must mean that they are guilty. Guilty and must prove their innocence.
As well as following Starr whilst she deals with the death of her childhood best friend, we also follow Starr having to co-ordinate life at the suburban prep-school that she attends. With her white friends who do not really know her, just the version of her she wants them to see. The white boyfriend she is scared to take home to meet her parents. All the while having to work out a way to be heard, to challenge the very judicial systems that supports the actions of the police officers she fears.
This book is something I think everyone should read; the often-uncomfortable subjects that are covered are done so by Thomas in a way that means they are not cliched in anyway. This maybe a work of fiction but it follows very real-life situations. I have always been told that if I was in trouble and I needed some help that I was to call the police. This book details a whole other set of feelings, about the police and how instead of them feeling like they are being protected they are likely to be the ones that cause their death.
I am not going to pretend to know what it feels like to be scared at being pulled over in a car just because of my colour. What Thomas does in this book is gives you just a glimmer of what it could be like to live in those shoes.
There are books that stay with you for a long time after you have read it. This one will not ever leave me. This will be a book I will continue to read and recommend.
TWO THOUSAND AND TWENTY
Two thousand and twenty
To some, this is merely words strung together to make up a number
To others, it is so much more than that
It represents the year that no one saw coming
A year of uncertainty, setbacks, chaos
A new year is now upon us People breathe a sigh of relief;
“No more 2020,
But instead of erasing this off a chalk board
Tucking it into the back of a draw
And laying it to rest at long last
We should use this
What have we learned?
Where do we go from here?
2020 was the year we gave nature a chance
In the beginning, people disappeared behind closed doors
And for the first time, in a very long time
The Earth began to heal
Mother Nature awoke from her heavy slumber;
Fish and dolphins swam into the clear water of the Venetian canals;
Mountain goats wandered the streets of Wales;
The hole in the ozone layer began to close
For the first time,
Light pollution in cities reduced to a level low enough
For you to see a deep blue blanket of stars stretched across the sky
Even from within a city centre
All this, simply because humans vanished for a few months Leaving the Earth be.
We saw the great impact we have
And the great we can achieve if we change our harmful habits
2020 was the year humans learned to appreciate more
Phones were pocketed, laptops shut down
We stepped outside onto fresh grass and breathed in clean air
Smiling for the first time at something that wasn’t on a phone
We spent more time with family Cherished the good memories being formulated We tested new skills, refined old hobbies
We learned to laugh more, play more, smile more
We opened books
Pounded out the door for our first run
Put pencil to paper
Sat down at a piano and began to learn
2020 came with its many struggles
Its ups and its downs
But if we use these to pave the way for growth in the new year
We can become stronger and more unified than ever before
Two thousand and twenty one
A new number
A fresh page
Take what you have learned from two thousand and twenty
And use this
To learn, acknowledge
And perhaps one day
We will look back on two thousand and twenty one
From a world that is more unified, more aware, more protective
Of both the planet, and of one another.
Millie Sandy is a textile designer specialising in print and illustration, displaying playful but considered imagery alongside bright, abstracted prints. With a passion for narrative and the creative process behind a concept, Millie tells stories through crayon, collage and paint to materialise her weird and wonderful imagination, inspired by both her natural and mundane surroundings. As well as print, these illustrations appear in the form ceramics, soft furnishings and one-off garments, all vocalising a cleverly crafted message regarding care for both people and the planet.