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On Monday night I slipped on some uneven ground out the back of work and fractured my ankle. As a result I've been stuck on the couch annoying my housemates until given the all-clear by doctors, which means I've had heaps of time to catch up on reading and TV. Luckily I have fantastic housemates, workmates and friends -- I am so lucky to have people who are not related to me to clean up your my room and my hair with no complaints and only minimal teasing. I started putting together this Missive before I broke my ankle, and a lot of the stuff in here is about unhealthy behaviour that I have struggled with myself. You can save anything in her to read later in Pocket, and email me at sophie@sophiebenjamin.com. 

ONLINE

Margaret Court: astounding champion who found God and lost the respect of a nation by Russell Jackson in Guardian Australia
Reading time: 7 minutes
Margaret Court was a phenomenal tennis player, but has always had opinions that are problematic at best and completely revolting at worst. This is a good summary of her achievements and ... not achievements. 

"Overlooked during her current evisceration in the court of public opinion, and in Court’s cries of injustice and persecution, is the fact that for a purveyor of such divisive opinions she has actually had a charmed run. In 1970, Court kicked things off by praising South Africa’s apartheid policy (“South Africans have this thing better organised than any other country, particularly America,” she said. “I love South Africa. I’ll go back there any time.”), for which she received very little lasting scrutiny."

Trickle-down workaholism in startups by David Henemeier-Hanson at Medium
Reading time: 6 minutes
This is a great summation of a lesson I have learned over the course of my career: if your manager, founder or company owner is a workaholic who never takes holidays or sick days and has contempt for people who want to achieve stuff outside of work, that attitude trickles down and it means you'll be discouraged from taking holidays or leaving on time. 

"If the soma-like inducements don’t work, there’s always the lofty talk about THE MISSION: We’re not just here to capture more attention or steal more privacy in the name of advertising, no, we’re connecting the world! Your single-track life has meaning! All your sacrifices are for a greater good!
So don’t tell me that there’s something uniquely demanding about building yet another fucking startup that dwarfs the accomplishments of The Origin of Species or winning five championship rings. It’s bullshit. Extractive, counterproductive bullshit peddled by people who either need a narrative to explain their personal sacrifices and regrets or who are in a position to treat the lives and wellbeing of others like cannon fodder."

A food addiction has defined my entire life, and it is slowly killing me by Melanie Tait in Guardian Australia
Reading time: 10 minutes
A brave piece about "food addiction". I prefer the term "compulsive eating", personally - because like any eating disorder, it's never really about the food ... it's about using food to self-soothe in the way some people do with meth, booze or weed.
"My parents are in their 60s and my food addiction has worn them down. To share these issues with a partner has been unthinkably hard for me, so romantic relationships have never lasted long. This makes my parents my people – still the last line of defence when things are crumbling. The people I borrow money from when I’ve maxed my credit card out on a late-night drive-through binge. 

I’m visiting them at the moment and as Mum moved my dressing gown, two chocolate wrappers fell out of the pocket. “You found my spot in the laundry!” she cried.

I hadn’t. I found Dad’s spot under his dressing table. When I finish writing this, I’ll probably go and investigate the laundry. 

They don’t believe I have a food addiction. They think I’m weak. That I can’t control myself. That I’m lazy. 

Most of the time I think they’re right; they know me better than anyone else. Why can’t I just stop eating?"

The music industry needs to address the ways it fails artists when it comes to mental health by Tom Larkin in Music Feeds
Reading time: 5 minutes
For me (and most people, I reckon), being a full-time touring musician in 2017 is incompatible with good mental health. Sleep deprivation, drugs and alcohol, unstable income, being away from support networks ... it's a recipe for disaster. Tom Larkin is a band manager, producer and the drummer in Shihad, and nails it on this issue. On the same tack, my friend Ben sent me this cool data visualisation of just how improbable it is that your band will "make it". 

"I believe the core issue that people working in the industry face is that they’re not trained to recognise the difference between pushing someone to the best of their abilities vs. pushing them over the edge.

We, as a music community, need to rethink how we too often allow fragile people to remain stuck unassisted in the hamster wheel of music as an outcome of our collective drive to get ahead and improve the odds for our acts.

Likewise, artists need to examine their own expectations of what it is to be involved in building a career for themselves. They need to recognise their own risk profile and the truth behind the culture and mythology that can drive people to develop lifelong habits that are terminally unsustainable — sometimes it’s OK to just play music instead of trying to build a living at it."

North Korean ships with corpses on board have been washing ashore in Japan by Jonathan Kaiman in the LA Times
Reading time: 4 minutes
"In small towns along Japan's sleepy west coast, dozens of North Korean boats drift ashore each year — and while most arrive empty or reduced to kindling, some float eerily out of the haze with a crew of bodies, adding to the mystery of a country that cloaks itself in secrecy."

OFFLINE

I've never been much of a fan of any of her other work, but I loved Nikki Gemmell's new book After, which I read after a few of my colleagues recommended it. I wept throughout the last third of it -- probably because it reminded me a lot of my own relationship with my mother and the long, slow death of my grandmother. If you're after a more personal take on the euthanasia debate, suss it out. 

I've also been catching up on my magazine backlog. Swampland is doing a great job of filling the Aussie music criticism void that Mess + Noise left behind, and doing it with beautiful design and photography to boot. As always, No Cure never fails to show off cool art and design that I hadn't heard of before. 

I found out about Alia Shawkat (Maeby Funke from Arrested Development)'s new TV series Search Party from this great interview with her, and binged the entire first season in a single day. It's been described as a "hipster Columbo" and a "noir sitcom", both of which I'd agree with.  The whole thing is streaming for free on SBS On Demand, and you should definitely watch it.  
Copyright © 2017 Sophie Benjamin, All rights reserved.


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