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The Monday Media Diet with Alex Freedman
Alex Freedman (AF) was recently introduced to us by a WITI contributor as someone who would bring some MMD heat. She’s co-founder of Freedman Fitzpatrick Gallery in Los Angeles, a recent Booth MBA, and an all-around interesting woman. We’re happy to have her on the page today. Have a great week. -Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
I used to rail hairpin turns in a suspension-less pickup truck as if I was driving an M3, so in essence, I’m an LA woman with 9 lives.
Career-wise, I started out as an academic. Harvard Square has a good view, but I hate sitting still. I spent several years writing and traveling the world before founding Freedman Fitzpatrick, an art gallery in LA and Paris. For 7 years I built emerging artists’ careers into institutional names. If you’ve ever been to the Venice Biennial, MoMA, the Whitney, or a few other spots, you’ve probably seen artwork by someone I worked with.
Two years ago, I decided to pause and think. My version of pausing was an MBA from UChicago Booth. I finished in June and have since been working on launching an e-commerce startup. But companies keep asking me to tell them how to spend their money better, so I keep doing it.
Describe your media diet.
Whoever is doing data analysis on my subscriptions must think I’m either a bot or a family of 12 sharing one email address. I spend an inordinate amount of time reading newsletters - such that listing them feels like naming my favorite child. That said, I’ll spare you the trenches of my adored industry reports in favor of less myopic titles. I love Caixin for its telenovela reportage of the Chinese bond market. Arieh Kovler is my go-to for wading through alt-right paranoia. 6 pages keeps me on point. Matt Levine’s Money Stuff was rec’d to me by a treasury expert and I’ve been treasuring it ever since. My internet muses are New Models and Cybernaut. My TikTok is a cascade of 15-year-old fashion icons. I recently deleted my Twitter so while my mental health is grateful, my phone still hasn’t forgiven me. In its stead, I’ve been listening to music and reading novellas.
What’s the last great book you read?
It’s a tie - as of late I’ve been enamored with avant-garde murder parables and how 60s/70s literature ties into contemporary political discourse.
“The Driver’s Seat” by Muriel Spark. It details a woman hunting for her future man - a man whose task is not to be her future lover, but her murderer. Set in the late 60s and donning the heroine in clashing geometric patterns, it speaks surprising volumes to the complexity of women’s sexual liberation post-#metoo.
“The Dutchman” by Amiri Baraka (also known as LeRoi Jones). It’s a two-act play in which a white woman murders a black man on the New York subway after he refuses to succumb to her seductions. Baraka treatment of the subway is a striking metaphor to address a lineage of Karens, the trans-Atlantic middle passage, and a pre-Pirates of the Caribbean ghost ship myth of the “Flying Dutchman”.
What are you reading now?
Izumi Suzuki’s “Terminal Boredom”. She was a pioneering Japanese science fiction writer who tackled imperialism and gender politic with a sword-like pen that cuts through materialism with speculative freshness.
Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s “Last Night a DJ Saved my Life” - it’s a great DJ history primer and a good re-read. The last edition was issued in 2006 and the language feels delightfully antecedent to chopped & screwed digital music vernaculars.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
I’m a ToC kinda woman. I dive into what captures my eye first. With everything else, I scan four sentences in the middle. If it can keep my attention I start from the top.
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?
As I’m not hanging out on people’s bookshelves, I’ll go for what vs. who. Novellas and plays are where it’s at. The perfect length for our device addled attention spans and incredibly effective at breaking reactive cognitive feedback loops.
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
Bandcamp - let me count the ways. And Napster. Yes, it still exists.
Plane or train?
Train. Long story short my palette is forever thankful for the 8-hour turned 36-hour train sojourn from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza that ended my vegetarianism.
What is one place everyone should visit?
A restored reef or seagrass habitat. There is a tendency to pathologize or whitewash larger than life issues rather than break them down into constituent parts that can be solved in manageable pieces. The ocean is a vastly mysterious place and restored zones articulate the power of how an actionable task, time, and concentrated effort can redefine what seems impossible or inventible.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
To sit Shiva for my 9-year relationship, I spent a week watching TV and movies. And because I love clothes, I obsessively reverse image searched my favorite looks. This culminated in a 23-hour hunt for a necklace that made me forget my breakup and demand to know why there isn’t an easier way to shop from these aspirational showrooms we call TV and movies. I didn’t find a satisfactory answer so I’m founding a startup to ameliorate this pain point - more on that to come! (AF)
WITI x McKinsey:
An ongoing partnership where we highlight interesting McKinsey research, writing, and data.
The payments landscape. The payments world took an economic hit from the pandemic, just as others did. Indeed, in 2020, global payments revenues declined for the first time in 11 years. But today there’s reason for hope: the decline was smaller than anticipated, and indicators show a nominal rebound for 2021. The latest edition of McKinsey’s long-running global payments report helps to unpack the industry’s dynamics overall and looks closer at topics such as digital currency, transaction banking, and new revenue models. Check it out.
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Alex (AF)
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