Howdy from New York, where we are dealing with the first week of the new decade by making WWIII memes. How are you? No, some people are working on inspiring, uplifting projects despite… everything. Our pal, Mr Aaron Levine, the creative director at Abercrombie & Fitch, is inviting members of his creative community on to his Instagram page to talk about their professional trials, to offer advice and insight. It’s good. And we could use all the hope we can get these days, when it seems like the good guys keep going away: guys such as the great artist and professor Mr John Baldessari, who passed away this week at age 88. It’s hard to overstate how important Mr Baldessari was to Angelenos, to the art world, to fans. And he’s pretty irreplaceable. But still we go on, as he did, looking for meaning, in beauty, with the help of this column from T Magazine, with another great year of books ahead (including new ones from friends of MR PORTER, Messrs Andrew O’Hagan and David Mitchell), and a surprise (to me, at least) posthumous album by Mr Leonard Cohen. Speaking of which, RIP Ms Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, and an icon for a generation of writers.
To kick off the new year, The Atlantic published a piece by Ms Peggy Orenstein about what it means to be a man in America today; Ms Jia Tolentino goes in on the ubiquitous Instagram face, and Eater made a list of places to eat in 2020. As someone who spent, oh, a quarter of his life working in restaurants, I was hella triggered by Mr Foster Kamer’s story about the value system by which restaurants rate us all, and what it means. The internet has cobbled together a reading list from the books mentioned by the late rapper Nipsey Hussle and now people are reading through that list in a book club, which I kind of want to join. At The Cut, this piece on “the rise of the resistance socialite” is, well, worth a read, and I won’t spoil anything by trying to summarise it.
In other news, the world’s most important roundup, Mr Steven Soderbergh’s culture diary is up for the last year. Apart from his watching and reading a bunch of Ms Agatha Christie early in the year – what does it mean?! – the best bit is that, in true Soderberghian style, he was already watching a full cut of his new movie, Let Them All Talk, in August, before it was even in post-production. MR PORTER contributor Mr Luke O’Neil’s political screed Welcome To Hell World is out now, as is the second instalment of Faculty, a look inside the lives of creative types around the world by Mr Justin Chung.