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Stanley quotes Kim Kardashian
The Debrief with journalist Stanley Widianto
Welcome to The Debrief, the Monday edition of this newsletter where I ask people to share their burning thoughts and interests.
Some of you will remember a time when this newsletter used to be called Party of Three, named after the three segments I would write each time I sent a letter out. Earlier this year, I knew I wanted to have that name changed and try something new. For months I brainstormed alone and with friends but couldn’t arrive at a name I liked. I adopted my IG handle Pages Not Found as a placeholder, but remained generally unhappy with it… until one night, while out with friends, I think we were talking about writing? Essays? Joan Didion? when one friend jokingly quipped that one of us should write an essay collection titled “Slouching Towards Blok M”, and while the comment was made in jest, I thought the perfect name has finally found me. I loved Slouching — the book and the posture — and I love Blok M. I also love that is sounds silly. I asked that friend a few days later if he would mind me adopting the name for my newsletter, which he didn’t, and so here we are. I am ever so grateful!
Today in Debrief, I have Stanley, who is that friend who gave this newsletter its name I like to think we go way back. We were first introduced eight or nine years ago by the very friendly owner of this lovely coffee shop we used to frequent. Every time I’m there, Stanley would be there on his laptop, writing. In the years since, he has gone on to write for a variety of publications local and international, from The Jakarta Post to the New York Times, although being the zillennial that he is, you will also find his extremely online pop culture commentaries on Twitter and on the sideline of gatherings.
Stanley is a breaking news journalist based in Jakarta.
What’s an unpopular opinion that you feel strongly about?
As a card-carrying conformist, my opinions are usually extremely popular so I’m going to struggle with this question a bit. But hmm, let me see.
I don’t think couples or friends should take up the entire sidewalk or that conveyor belt thing at the airport (a “travelator”?). Like, okay, we love love or whatever, but Mary, some of us have somewhere to be. I am also generally a fast walker, so this is probably just a me problem but seriously! I think I’ve spoken about this at length with friend of the newsletter Erin Cook, but Christabelle thank you for giving me the platform – nay, the soapbox! – to say all this.
I also think “Outer Worlds” smokes “Fallout 4” in terms of dystopian-FPS-games-with-leftist-undertones. That game ate. What’s between seven and nine? Ate.
What’s something you’re currently obsessed with?
Not to get, like, whomp whomp all of a sudden and kill the vibe, but I haven’t been obsessed with anything lately.
Jeff Rosenstock’s new album maybe, and imagining myself as a post-hardcore singer with a clarion voice every time I put that on. New things genuinely freak me out these days; I almost have to dare myself to watch this, listen to that, read that. I still get excited for new records to drop, but even that lasts for like what? A day or two days tops? I remember my stomach churning and giddy every time something fun was going to happen but now… not so much. I miss it though.
Sometimes I like to chalk it up to COVID when going through the motions was something you had to do instead of something you chose to do. We get to do things now, but I just don’t. I may have never lost my sense of smell or taste but it doesn’t mean I didn’t lose anything!
I do remember the last thing I waited with bated breath for: “Bottoms” – the Rachel Sennott / Ayo Edebiri movie. Boy did they not miss.
I’m also obsessed with the cats back home I guess. Ain’t they just fun little critters? The way they ignore the cat tree you spend good money on and go to town on some unused shoelaces?
Who’s someone you think more people should know about?
I think people should know more about David Graeber, the anthropologist. I haven’t read his stuff religiously the way I’d like to, but reading “Bullshit Jobs” or “Debt” reconfigures the neurons in my brain…in a good way! It helps me to see most things as they are, and not as they should be. People smarter than me can definitely whip up a more cogent and coherent takeaway of his work, but I would highly recommend his books to you, Slouching Toward Blok M readers.
While we’re on the subject of awesome writers or thinkers, I’d like to raise: Tjamboek Berdoeri, an Indonesian journalist/writer. I’ve only read parts of “Indonesia dalem Api dan Bara”, but it’s some of the most cutting, exemplary narrative journalism ever. Idrus was also a pretty sick writer — loved how restrained his consternations were.
What’s a life hack or advice that recently changed your life?
I have the best advice for women in business: get your fucking ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days. You have to surround yourself with people that wanna work. Have a good work environment where everyone loves what they do because you have one life. No toxic environments and show up and do the work. (Hehe.)
Oh and baby wipes. Bring them everywhere. There’s nary a thing those bad boys can’t fix.
What are you most excited about in the coming weeks?
I recently figured out that maintaining friendships is a thing you gotta actively do, so I’m excited to hit up some of my buddies and actually follow through with it.
Christabelle you might need to fact-check this but “Killers of the Flower Moon” is coming out next week or something right? Right, so there’s that.
(Note: “Killer of the Flower Moon” is now out!)
What’s something you recently changed your mind about?
This is probably a morose note to end this on but just a few minutes ago I changed my mind about how interesting my takes or my life stories were. Now I think they’re simply…not. This thought had been percolating in my head for a while now and doing this interview simply laid concrete on it.
I mean I didn’t make any of these answers up, but when I was answering some of these Qs I was like, hmm should I share that? Would people around me mind if I said that? What are the chances that some of my friends will see this and go, hey bud you probably shouldn’t have said that?
Also maybe this has something to do with the way I perceive most things nowadays? This answer probably does not make a ton of sense, but most things don’t nowadays. I don’t know. I could’ve sworn I was more certain about most things before.
The Debrief is the Monday installation of this newsletter. Visit past Debriefs with Tari who likes her meetings labeled, Ula who is not a sapiosexual, Rocky who thinks about the Byzantine Empire daily, Erin who nerded out about Asean , Avi who talked about gatekeeping and Vero who hates ambient music. On Wednesdays, I tend to publish essays. On Fridays, I send out a brief pleasure list.