Identifying with the characters is a normal part of going to the theatre. With Stephen Sondheim, though, it goes further than that. You find yourself identifying with the composer, feeling that he is speaking directly to you as a friend or teacher or relative, almost, though never actually, bypassing the plot and the characters with an unending fusillade of brilliance.
Virgil Abloh, the artist and fashion designer, died on 28 November of cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare cancer. He was 41. The news was unexpected, as Abloh had chosen to keep his diagnosis private. An exhibition of his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2019 was called Figures of Speech. One of his best jokes was to put the words ‘FOR WALKING’ in bold, all-caps lettering on a pair of women’s cowboy boots.
It’s ten years since Christopher Logue died. His archive was recently acquired by the British Library and there’s going to be an event on Sunday afternoon, The Arrival of the Poet in the Library: A Celebration of Christopher Logue, with Tariq Ali, John Hegley, Rosemary Hill, Christopher Reid, Harriet Walter and Astrid Williamson, hosted by Andrew O’Hagan. It also marks the publication of the audiobook of War Music: The Author’s Own Recording. As August Kleinzahler wrote in the LRB, Logue’s ‘considerable work in theatre and film as actor, playwright and screenwriter nourished the poetry, much of which was dramatic in nature, and also helped make him one of his generation’s finest readers of verse’. You can listen to him reading an extract from Book 19 here.
Elon Musk is a dick. At least, that’s the image the Tesla and SpaceX CEO likes to project on Twitter. His profile picture is a photo of a rocket, elongated and cylindrical, silhouetted against the sky. It’s a nod to his work with SpaceX, but it’s also clearly a penis. It’s a sly wink at his stans, the fanbase who make up the core of his 64 million Twitter followers. Musk is a master at publicity, and the image is a provocation, to encourage more admirers or haters to pour into his timeline. Rich men – and no one is currently richer than Musk – still flaunt their wealth with overpowered cars or yachts, but they also now have Twitter, and we have to decide how to respond to Musk’s vanity rocket thrusting into our feeds whenever he says something clever, mean, childish or self-serving, which is every day.
In Honduras, Biden’s problems stem from the period when he was vice-president and the mildly reforming President Zelaya was ousted in a military coup. Neoliberal government was restored, but the corruption and drug-trafficking created a narcostate, led since 2014 by Trump’s confidant Juan Orlando Hernández. When Hondurans voted to end JOH’s mandate in 2017, the US ensured that a rigged result kept him in power. JOH is finally standing down as Hondurans go the polls again on Sunday.
Three years after his last title match in London, the world chess champion, Magnus Carlsen, is defending his crown for the fourth time in Dubai. He will turn 31 at the end of the month, on the day of the fourth of fourteen scheduled match games. He has been world number one continuously since his late teens. His challenger is Ian Nepomniachtchi, currently ranked fifth in the world. They are the same age and have been playing each other for nearly twenty years. Nepomniachtchi won twice in youth tournaments before both became grandmasters and in their thirteen classical encounters Carlsen has won only once. But the last of Nepomniachtchi’s four victories was in 2017, when Carlsen was said to have been suffering with a cold.