Welcome to Notes From Erin, a newsletter about all things music and reading-related. If you like what you see, consider subscribing - and add me on Instagram or Twitter.
This week’s newsletter is a little short and sweet because first, I wanted to start here:
This trailer is epic, and I can not wait. If you have been following the newsletter for a while, you know that one of the things that I love talking about most are scams and scammers. Whether it’s Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, the faux Saudi Prince, the gambling nun, or Anna Delvey, I find them to be very interesting. This weekend, Anna’s Netflix series, Inventing Anna, is coming out via Shondaland, and it should be very interesting.
To somewhat promote the series, there was an interesting article that ran on Shondaland’s website titled, “Scammer? Grifter? Imposter? Or Opportunitist? The Growing Obsession With Those Who Game the System,” and I thought the article offered some unique perspectives on why people like me, find these scams to be so interesting.
So, it’s a way to vicariously live it out. We always assume that we know better, that our morality is stronger, that we’re smarter, but ultimately why these stories are so impactful — and why films we’ve made like Fyre Fraud or LuLaRich are impactful on a large level — is because of how relatable they are. This is us. There isn’t just a cadre of really bad, immoral people out there; we all share these traits, and we all share this gullibility. We can all be preyed upon and/or be the predator at any given point.”
“There’s a simplicity to Anna’s scam that makes it hit the right balance between it being relatable and completely outlandish,” explains BBC journalist Vicky Baker, who created the popular podcast Fake Heiress, which followed Anna’s life and crimes, with Chloe Moss and producer Sasha Yevtushenko. “She took something so simple — ‘what if I just pretend to be rich?’ — and ran with it with no concern for the consequences. It’s the sort of story where you put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist and the victim, and I think that really adds to the appeal. You can buy into the fantasy.”
“I think that one of the things that’s very satisfying about these stories is that when somebody games the system, you see that there is a system,” Pressler says. “You maybe knew it all along, but you really see it. It doesn’t put an end to the system, but it just makes it a little bit less threatening because it brings it to light in a way. … [These scammers] expose the cracks in our society in some strange way.”
I thought these were spot-on perspectives. For me, I don’t find myself in the scams because, realistically, I’m not sure as a black woman I could scam in the same way without raising a skeptical eye. I do think, however, the draw that is compelling to me is two things:
The audacity of these scammers to think of these scams and scam innocent people.
The victims are pretty naive - which is basically a duh thought.
Some of these scams just don’t click to me - like I always go back to Theranos and wonder why people on her board believed her so freely without doing research and looking into things for themselves. It’s almost baffling to me. Also, some of the scams are so extreme: lying and creating a whole fake music festival and serving stale bread on makeshift beds. It’s baffling.
Let me know your thoughts on this or if you watch Inventing Anna, as always.
What I’m Reading
Book: Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm by Dan Charnas
I am currently in the middle of this book, and I love it. Dilla will forever be one of the most prolific producers of all time, in my heart and the heart of many. This book is pretty solid so far because it gives a complete overview of Dilla from his upbringing, how he went to school with a briefcase with music and candy in it, to how he started making music, and how other musicians fell in love with his style.
Article: I’m Addicted to My Phone. How can I cut back?
I felt this article for some reason. I wouldn’t quite say I am addicted to my phone, but I wouldn’t say that I’m not either. I have done all the things - turned on screentime, deleted TikTok, keep deleting the Instagram app only to redownload it so that I am on my phone less. BUT I have realized I am Zenon in the contemporary world.
Some of the article highlighted tips are asking yourself what else you could be doing with your time. Also, doing simple things like taking a break from all tech for one day per month or setting rules around your daily smartphone usage. The article also suggested trying stuff like trying on greyscale.
Article: The Complicated Female Genius of Lauryn Hill
Article: Everyone Has Left the Chat
Article: Quinta Brunson Made Network TV Cool Again
Abbott Elementary is easily the best show on TV right now.
Things I Listened To:
Podcast: How I Built This with Guy Raz: Goodreads: Otis and Elizabeth Chandler
As an avid reader, Goodreads is one of the apps I am on at least a few times per week. I loved this episode on the founders about how they started the app and why.
That’s it for this week.
I haven't watched Reinventing Anna but I'm so interested in your thoughts on the scammers here, as well as your comment about race. I think it's absolutely true that white women and men are going to get away with scamming so much more, especially in the context of the kind of wealth that Anna Delvey was playing into. I've been thinking a lot in this current moment about Linda Taylor, the mixed race woman whose story gave rise to the really dangerous "welfare queen" stereotype that Reagan got obsessed with and used really often. I reviewed this book called THE QUEEN that was about her life, it was really fascinating and upsetting. Because unlike someone like Delvey or Holmes her scams were often (not always, but often) coming from what seems like a need to assert and find power in a world that had literally tried to make her powerless. She really was a victim of so many systems. Anyway, thank you for this post!