A brief letter from London, dickish thefts, and laptop bans.
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Hello, dear readers. Today, we’re going to hear from R&K superstar Alexa van Sickle, who was in London yesterday as the attack there unfolded. Over to you, Alexa:
When I’m in London these days, I often haunt the lobby of a Holiday Inn for their free wi-fi. I was sitting in their blandly pleasant lounge yesterday when the first headline—about gunshots near the Houses of Parliament—came on the screen behind the bar, tuned to the BBC. Granted, we were far away: 15 Tube stops from Westminster. But as more details came out—first about the car driving into people on Westminster Bridge, then about casualties, then police statements—our small audience was hushed, but calm. People sipped their Heinekens, clacked away at laptops, and occasionally checked for more news.
A civil servant friend who was caught in the lockdown texted me later, telling me it was surreal, but that the police response was first-class. “I’ve seen so many drills and practices, I just assumed it was one at first. I was 200 yards away, and not once did I feel unsafe.”
It’s a cliché that London remains calm in a crisis—but it’s one that for which we were all grateful last night.
The events were over quickly. But then they passed into a mutant half-life in the echo chambers of the internet, with some Twitter users frothing at the mouth about how London was “falling.” But to many Londoners, the most notable, skin-crawlingly repellent response in a very crowded field came from Donald Trump, Jr., who attacked London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, using a months-old quote—out of malice or ignorance—to make it look like Khan was blasé about yesterday’s attacks.
This tweet, on this day. There is no better illustration of the vast contrast between London’s response to this crisis—the swift actions of the police and emergency responders; the honoring of the dead and injured; the Prime Minister’s dignified speech and the striking lack of rabid calls for authoritarian crackdowns—and the response that issued from the moral void of Donald Trump, Jr.’s mind, all while the tragedy was still unfolding.
London’s response to can be summed up thus:
Thanks, Alexa! Meanwhile, back on our side of the pond, a white supremacist stalked black men in New York City before stabbing a 66-year-old man in the chest with a sword, killing him. But strangely enough, that terrifying act of domestic terrorism didn’t register on the Twitter feeds of many politicians or their scions this week. I’m not saying that if a Muslim man stalked white Americans in a major metropolitan area and then murdered an elderly man with a sword that the current administration would lose its goddamn mind, but I’m also not NOT saying it.
Now, a quick tour of a few things I’m reading this week: why Iraqis say hello to say goodbye (requires a Wall Street Journal login but it’s great so I had to include it). Putin, Trump, and what we should really be afraid of: a conversation between Masha Gessen and Susan Glasser. North Korea probably stole $81 million from Bangladesh, which is just really dickish. Trying to make sense of the laptop ban.
And in food: a case study in American “ethnic food.” This profile of Paula Wolfert eating to fight against dementia definitely did not make me feel anything. Nope! No feels there. This is an awesome article on Domino’s that has amazing production values and, related, is a great reminder that Bloomberg has a lot of money. I just blew through an advance copy of Cork Dork, a new book by Bianca Bosker about wine, obsessives, and the limits of taste. It’s out next week, as is Bosker’s excellent article for R&K about Japan’s ridiculously high-end fruit market, so keep an eye out for both.
Finally, a special thanks to everyone who came out for our Nowruz dinner on Tuesday night. It was an evening of good food and good conversation, and we can’t wait to see even more friends old and new at the next one. Details coming soon!
That’s it for this week! Join us again next week for more of the best in politics, travel, and food from around the web. Tweet me stories @caraparks.