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Daily Briefing

Deep buzz for the content-deprived

Every weekday, while you get showered and dressed, we pluck these dewy- fresh, breaking stories from the info-clogged byways of the datasphere. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and stoke up on everything you need to know, or at least enough to fake it.

1% Jokes And Plutocrats In Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed A Wall Street Secret Society
Kevin Roose, New York Magazine | 1% Jokes And Plutocrats In Drag | February 18, 2014

...It was a secret fraternity, founded at the beginning of the Great Depression, that functioned as a sort of one-percenter’s Friars Club. Each year, the group’s dinner features comedy skits, musical acts in drag, and off-color jokes, and its group’s privacy mantra is “What happens at the St. Regis stays at the St. Regis.” For eight decades, it worked. No outsider in living memory had witnessed the entire proceedings firsthand...

Gangster Bankers: Too Big To Jail
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone | Gangster Bankers | February 18, 2014

The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays, almost like the government was hoping people were too busy hanging stockings by the fireplace to notice. Flooring politicians, lawyers and investigators all over the world, the U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. Yes, they issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks' profit – but they didn't extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses...

A Picture Of Detroit Ruin, Street By Street
Monica Davey | Motor City Mapping | February 18, 2014

A midnight blue Chevy rolls slowly down a snow-covered street, an emergency strobe light on its roof and a sign on its side that promises this is “official business.” At each house, business, even vacant lot, workers in the car pause to decide whether someone lives there and what shape the place is in before snapping a photo and beaming it to “mission control” miles away...

Like Football? Then You Should Love Curling
Marissa Payne, The Washington Post | Curling And Football | February 16, 2014

NFL star Vernon Davis finally made it to Sochi to fulfill his roll as honorary captain of the U.S. Olympic curling team Saturday when he showed up to watch the women compete with the Swedes...“The thing that intrigues me about curling is that it’s so competitive from a thinking standpoint,” Davis told the Associated Press after the match. “You really have to use your mind, really come up with a good strategy to defeat your opponent. …And curling helps me when it comes to the game of football.”...

Kim Gordon: Life After Sonic Youth
Dorian Lynskey, The Observer | Life After Sonic Youth | February 16, 2014

"There are times when you lose your narrative or get tired of it. Then it takes a while to figure out what the new one is."

Last autumn, Kim Gordon held a retrospective exhibition of her visual art at the New York gallery White Columns. One project, Noise Painting, featured the names of experimental rock bands written in thick, dripping black paint. Most of them hung on the wall, as you'd expect, but one was scrunched up on the floor as if it had been torn down in a rage. That one said Sonic Youth. You don't have to be an art critic to appreciate the symbolism...

In My Life: An Inside Account Of The Beatles' American Invasion
Peter Brown, Newsweek | In My Life | February 16, 2014

Peter Brown, the Beatles' manager, on the band's conquest of America...

The Great Book Of Picasso Returns
Sarah Moroz, The Daily Beast | Bible Of Picasso | February 15, 2014

On February 15th the definitive, massive, comprehensive catalogue of Picasso's works will be published -- again -- thanks to Cahiers d'Art and its new owner. Sarah Moroz on the rebirth of a famous publishing house, gallery, and art journal...

Bird Thou Never Wert: 'Holding On Upside Down,' A Biography Of Marianne Moore
Holland Cotter, The New York Times | Bird Thou Never Wert | February 14, 2014

...The moment is ripe for her to be restored to us, depixified and complex. And so she has been in a swift, cool but empathetic new biography called “Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore,” by Linda Leavell...

Cheap Words
George Packer, The New Yorker | The Everything | February 12, 2014

Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?

Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S. Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. All these streams and tributaries make Amazon something radically new in the history of American business...

Review: Malcolm Cowley, Selected Letters
Dwight Garner, The New York Times Book Review | About Malcolm Cowley | February 12, 2014

Cowley (1898-1989) wasn’t a bad poet. His best verse is collected in a volume called “Blue Juniata” (1985). But we can be grateful that relative poverty mostly forced him to put poetry aside. He was more adept in almost every other arena: as a critic, historian, editor, journalist and translator, a “one-man assembly line,” in the words of a colleague. Cowley was also perhaps the greatest literary cross-pollinator of the 20th century. It’s impossible to imagine the American canon without him...