LA Riots · Curtis Sliwa · Lady Gaga
Carole Baskin heads to court, but it's not what you (might) think
Slow Burn’s LA Riots season kicked off Wednesday. This is the sixth season for the Slate podcast, which has devoted seasons to topics as wide-ranging as the war in Iraq and racist politician David Duke.
This time around, the logline is:
In 1992, a jury failed to convict the four Los Angeles police officers who’d been captured on videotape beating Rodney King. The city erupted into fire and chaos—the culmination of decades of unchecked police abuse and racial injustice.
For the sixth season of Slate’s Slow Burn, Joel Anderson returns to explore the people and events behind the biggest civil disturbance in American history—a story that’s still playing out today.
Anderson also hosted Season 3 of the show, which covered the deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.. If you liked his approach with that one, you’ll probably like the new season — I find him to be a pull-no-punches host who feels balanced and calm without dipping into any icky both-sides-ism. Here’s what he said about the season when Slate announced the show over a year ago:
It was one of the most formative historical moments of my life. I was only a teenager at the time and I’ll never forget watching L.A. burn on television. Even then, I sensed that chaos represented a systemic failure that went far beyond what I was reading and seeing in the news,
Then, while working on the second episode of Slow Burn 3, which got a little into the persistent and disproportionate police abuse of Black communities in Southern California, it occurred to me that there was so much more to say about that particular moment. I knew that it would have some parallels with the uprisings of the past year, but after this summer, it became even more urgent and important for me to take this on. I’m humbled and excited to have this opportunity.
One episode is out now, but Slate subscribers also have access to bonus content (at least one accessory show per free episode, I think?), which might be more of an incentive to join up than my past reason, Slate’s many scandalous-sounding advice columns. — EB
It’s not too late to choose this month’s bonus review topic. When I checked Thursday morning, punk rock homicide doc The Gits had pulled ahead of Mary Tyler Moore shocker Like Mother, Like Son in the poll to determine the November subscriber-only review, but the race remains tight.
Paid subscribers will get Sarah’s take on the winner, as well as access to all our past bonus content. It’s never to late to join up!
Those familiar with true crime know the name Curtis Sliwa well, I assume. The founder of the red-beret-ed Guardian Angels is a figure of reverence for some, and of mockery for others. In recent years, he’s probably attracted more of the latter: the 67-year-old has evolved into a career as a conservative-leaning radio host and a rep as a general kook.
He also registered as a Republican last year, then ran for mayor of New York. The New York Times gave him a generously long profile last month, headlined “Curtis Sliwa Has New York’s Attention Again. Was That Always the Point?” The news was not always good:
“I’ve been shot, stabbed, beaten in the streets of New York City, locked up 76 times,” he said at a recent campaign stop. “I’ve been David versus Goliath from Day 1 in my entire life.”
But an examination of Mr. Sliwa’s career reflects a record far messier and more complicated than the comic-book hero image he has worked to foster. Interviews with more than 40 current and former members of his group, critics and other associates portray a charismatic figure whose frequently clownish acts belie a sharp intellect and keen media savvy. They also reveal a string of missteps in his public and private lives that have harmed his credibility, and a comfort with physical aggression, machismo and racist and sexist rhetoric that has made even some who are close to him uneasy.
You don’t necessarily need to invest your time into that NYT piece unless you’re curious about Sliwa’s legacy — as you likely know, he didn’t win the mayoral election, Eric Adams did, in a landslide. Instead, I have a much briefer Sliwa piece for you that kind of encapsulates his who general vibe these days (maybe always?), “Curtis Sliwa tried to bring his cat to vote. It got weirder from there.”
I will remind you, this is the Republican candidate for the mayor of New York City! This is where we’re at these days, I guess. Important facts to know are that the cat Sliwa attempted to bring into the polls is named “Gizmo” and he’s one of the vigilante’s 16 cats, all of which are rescues.
(They all live in a studio apartment that reporters toured earlier in the campaign season, but I was not able to find any information on the litter box situation. As a longtime cat guardian personally, and pet sitter professionally, I HAVE MANY THOUGHTS.)
Sliwa was denied entry into his polling place as animals aren’t allowed, then handed the cat off to a friend so he could go in to vote. I also have a lot of thoughts about this — this isn’t like “I’m out walking the dog, why not multitask and vote!” This is a cat, which would rather be at home! The whole thing seems very strange, and very perplexing given that Sliwa worked so hard for so many years to have his outside-the-law law enforcement organization taken seriously. Life is weird. — EB
House of Gucci’s second trailer dropped last week. The Ridley Scott movie arrives in theaters this Thanksgiving, and the promotion cycle is revving up. Most recently, Lady Gaga, who plays convicted hit-arranger Patrizia Reggiani, scored the cover of British Vogue, which means a predictably quotable profile.
I mean, I’d be rolling my eyes, but it’s Gaga so what do I expect? Snip:
“It is three years since I started working on it,” she launches in on House of Gucci, “and I will be fully honest and transparent: I lived as her [Reggiani] for a year and a half. And I spoke with an accent for nine months of that.” Off camera, too? “Off camera,” she confirms, solemnly. “I never broke. I stayed with her.”
“It was nearly impossible for me to speak in the accent as a blonde,” she continues. “I instantly had to dye my hair, and I started to live in a way whereby anything that I looked at, anything that I touched, I started to take notice of where and when I could see money. I started to take photographs as well. I have no evidence that Patrizia was a photographer, but I thought as an exercise, and finding her interests in life, that I would become a photographer, so I took my point-and-shoot camera everywhere that I went. I noticed that Patrizia loved beautiful things. If something wasn’t beautiful, I deleted it.”
That’s just a taste: the vast majority of the story is devoted to the Gucci case and how it relates to the (largely under wraps, even now) dramatic adaptation. If you’re looking for a smart rundown of the case, or are just super-pumped for the movie, the lengthy article is worth a read. — EB
Carole Baskin is suing Netflix now. Baskin has been fairly vocal about her disappointment with how she was portrayed in the first season of Tiger King, and its second season is apparently an opportunity to take that dismay to the courtroom.
According to the lawsuit, which you can read in full here, Baskin and her husband, Howard, claim that they only agreed to appear in a single “documentary motion picture,” a film pitched to them, they allege, as a “Blackfish style documentary to expose the big cat trade.”
“Far from being a documentary motion picture that seeks to expose the illicit trade of big cat private ownership, breeding and cub petting, Tiger King 1 is a seven (7) episode series focused primarily upon portrayal of Joe Exotic as a sympathetic victim and Carole as the villain,” the Baskins say in the complaint.
They didn’t film any new interviews for the second season, Baskin has repeatedly said, so if she’s in Tiger King 2, it’s from the interviews she did across “10 days over five years,” the complaint says. And yet, she appears in the Tiger King 2 trailer, which suggests that they’re in that season, too.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington has already denied the couple’s request for a restraining order barring “use of film footage of the Baskins and the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tiger King 2 or in any related promotion or advertising.” Per The Hollywood Reporter, Hernandez Covington said in her ruling that
The Court is not convinced at this juncture that the Baskins’ anticipated injury — including injury to their reputations — if the previously obtained footage of them is used in the new documentary qualifies as irreparable. ‘An injury is “irreparable” only if it cannot be undone through monetary remedies.
While the Court understands the Baskins’ frustration, it does not appear that inclusion of Defendants’ footage of the Baskins will cause any immediate harm that cannot be compensated with monetary damages.
That ruling doesn’t stop the Baskins from going ahead and demanding compensation within the suit, with Hernandez Covington writing that “The Court takes no position on whether the Baskins will be able to establish entitlement to a preliminary injunction.” So it’s likely that the suit will continue, even as Tiger King 2 hits screens everywhere as of November 16. — EB
Friday on Best Evidence: Sarah and I are figuring out a discussion thread topic now; your ideas welcomed!