Things I’m Verbing: Brave geeks, inland farming and Zac Efron’s abs

It’s been an otherwise stupid week for speech; the furor about comedian Kathy Griffin’s Judith-and-Holofernes portrait of herself with the severed head of the president is an exercise in one-sided performative outrage, which the left has self-abasingly internalized from the right.

I make a habit of linking as little breaking news or reaction pieces as possible. Given the ridiculous speed with which this administration’s already imaginary moral center collapses into a gravitational singularity, it hardly seems worth trying to keep up with it all. Every once in a while, though, someone gets so furious and so creative with their fury that I have to celebrate it. This week, snaps to Charles Pierce of Esquire, writing on Trump’s withdrawal (for “negotiating a better deal,” very reality show) from the Paris Accords on climate change. Calling it “the Rose Garden’s dumbest moment on record,” he sold me with “obvious anagram Reince Priebus” and just keeps going from there.

It’s been an otherwise stupid week for speech; the furor about comedian Kathy Griffin’s Judith-and-Holofernes portrait of herself with the severed head of the president is an exercise in one-sided performative outrage, which the left has self-abasingly internalized from the right. That said, my favorite literary take on this administration comes from SFF writer Catherynne M. Valente, who realized back in April that Trump is our first magical realist president.

  • This isn’t all going to be outrage, but personally, I’m fed up with the rapturous response to David Alm’s “I was friends with Richard Spencer” essay in the Point. The surface-level read is a seemingly brave self-examination about why Alm stayed friends with the white-supremacist troll. He doesn’t seem to notice that every woman and minority tells him from the outset that Spencer is bad news. In fact, the entire essay is a master class in falling prey to Geek Social Fallacies, which, as a fellow alumna of the University of Chicago, surprises me not one bit.
  • Speaking of white supremacy, sit with Garrett Epps’ lovely piece for the Atlantic on Richmond, Virginia’s Monument Avenue, “The Motionless Ghosts That Haunt the South.” As a Civil War–obsessed fifth-grader, I dragged my parents on two separate Spring Break trips to battlefields and museums. One stopped in Richmond, where a transplanted Northerner working at the Museum of the Confederacy told us the row of statues was also called the Avenue of Second-Place Trophies.
  • From the New Food Economy, consider Chelsey Simpson’s look at who benefits from VC money for food startups, with a case study on the local food movement in Oklahoma City.
  • Death with dignity, as the assisted suicide movement calls itself, provokes strong emotions on all sides of the issue, especially disability rights activists. For many my own age, physician-assisted suicide may raise the specter of Lois Lowry’s The Giver, with its unsettling euphemism “being released.” Myself, I appreciated (and wept through) this New York Times Magazine exploration of a man who attends his own wake. It’s a complicated, thorough look at ceremony, survivors and agency at perhaps the most vulnerable time in anyone’s life.
  • Wonder Woman comes out in the United States today. Among the many preemptive criticisms I’ve seen of the film (most, from star Gal Gadot’s nationality to the studio’s “risky gamble” on a female director, unworthy) stands the odd complaint that Gadot isn’t buff enough to play an Amazon. Writing for Vulture, E. Alex Jung takes on the film industry’s insistence on outrageous swole bodies for male actors. “I’m worried that the Hollywood Chrises are just one scoop of protein powder away from total renal failure,” he writes.

I’m excited for Wonder Woman, personally; I’ll be seeing it in one of the Alamo Drafthouse’s all-female screenings, which I expect will be both delightful and powerful.

Stay brave, friends.

Photo credit: payattn13/Flickr

Things I’m Verbing: Still Verbing: The Verbening

Hello, friends! Are we still talking about Trump? Are we still talking about the Olympics? Or Twitter’s terrible double standard on abuse and “copyright infringement”? Good grief, let’s do some other stuff.

  • You want to listen to something really magical? On the Media got in touch with The Daily Caller editor Scott Greer and asked him to justify the outlet’s frankly horrible journalistic standards in its coverage of the Khan family. (Yes, sorry, this is a little bit about Trump. He gets everywhere, yeesh.) Greer’s indignant meltdown over defending the indefensible is gold. By which I mean it’s staggeringly disingenuous, and not so much a dog whistle as a bullhorn.
  • The idea that antisemitism is not just a right-wing phenomenon is starting to pick up steam. You may have read Jewish anti-occupation activist Yotam Marom’s “Toward the Next Jewish Rebellion: Facing Anti-Semitism and Assimilation in the Movement,” which is worth your time no matter what your politics. I’d also encourage clicking through most of the threads in Navah Wolfe’s Twitter conversation about the pain of silence as a coping mechanism, as well as this post on the hypocrisy of Olympic athletes’ hostility toward the Israeli team. This blogger is a Bengali Jew, and has insisted before that people across the board take a hard look at their own countries’ history when criticizing another.
  • Rural America confronts a new class divide,” about subsistence farms versus megafarms, and “The Original Underclass,” a comparison between two books about whiteness in rural America, make for an interesting look at poverty, class and politics going back hundreds of years that continue today.
  • Catapult is a new outlet to me, but Jessica Miller’s wonderful “Hair in War,” an examination of World War II through women’s hairstyles (not nearly as frivolous as you might think), recommends it highly.
  • Related to that, I can’t stop thinking about Atlas Obscura’s article “The Perfectly Preserved World War I Trench.”

Up top: And now for something completely different. I’m not entirely sure why this nicely adorned jalopy lives on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, but I’m glad it does.