I just saw the Yankees play the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, my first professional baseball game in about eight or nine years. I found it hilarious and delightful, but truth be told, I only have one true love when it comes to baseball.
I hope you laughed at that — happy Friday, gang! Fun fact: Arlo Guthrie and I share a birthday, which is coming up this Monday. Fingers crossed we get some good news?
- I almost don’t care if it’s sort of a conspiracy theory at this point, I’m fascinated by this proposition that Amelia Earhart survived and wound up in the Marshall Islands.
- You know how much I love nonfiction comics (in addition to all the other kinds); recently we’ve had two exploring a subject close and dear to my heart. At CityLab, Ariel Aberg-Riger (whose work I’ve loved before) has written and illustrated a gorgeous, poignant piece about Mr. Rogers and what makes Americans hunger for his kind of neighborhood. Meanwhile, at Longreads, Candace Rose Rardon is a world traveler, but she’s found meaning in one global commonality: “Home Is a Cup of Tea.”
- For Kajal, Nadya Agrawal pushes on a trope we’ve seen in multiple acclaimed “South Asian man is just a normal American guy” films and TV shows: “Why Don’t Brown Women Deserve Love Onscreen?” Responding on Twitter to a related essay from BuzzFeed (“Why Are Brown Men So Infatuated With White Women Onscreen?“), S.I. Rosenbaum digs into something that both essays miss: “When the author says ‘quirky,’ he means ‘Jewish.'” For more on Jews, particularly American Ashkenazi Jews, and whiteness, see Tumblr use Salt Dragon, writing on Jay-Z’s not-really philosemitic lyrics and what many urban Jews became after World War II.
- I posted this over a holiday weekend, so if you missed it, I wrote up how Jewishness and Israelis don’t fit into a POC/white, colonist/indigenous binary and how otherwise committed anti-racist activists can entirely miss clear signals of antisemitism.
- If you want a really sad, troubling story of a progressive, feminist, sex-positive activist gone “red-pilled,” read Katelyn Burns’ “The Strange, Sad Case of Laci Green” for the Establishment.
- On July 3, I saw the Yankees play the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, my first professional baseball game in about eight or nine years. I found it hilarious and delightful, but truth be told, I only have one true love when it comes to baseball. Someone once said that as The Shawshank Redemption is to men, A League of Their Own is for women. It’s simply perfect on every level, and given that I saw it at 7, it’s incredibly formative for me. Katie Baker, writing for the Ringer, shows why it’s still the greatest sports movie of all time.
Stay brave, friends.
Image credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame; click that link, it’s a great article too. See also: this great art from Project Wisconsin, just because it’s great.
I don’t like to get off-track with posting, but today I’m delighted to have such a fulfilling excuse. For an assignment in my magazine editing class in journalism school, we had to pick a print publication to analyze. I wandered from the Medill newsroom in the Loop to the nearby Sears Tower, which not only boasted a Corner Bakery (their mini-M&M-studded Monster Cookies are just about my favorite) but a newsstand in the basement. On a bottom rack near the entrance, I spotted a nice-looking cover with a title I’d never seen before. It turned out to be a fascinating issue, and I’ve wanted to write for them pretty much ever since.
Yesterday, after some of my favorite reporting and editing I’ve ever done, I finally got to share my first piece for Pacific Standard. This story started with a grumpy late-night tweet; it became an investigation into how we form and curate cultural memory, and what we can gain from truly confronting the Great War and its legacy. I hope you enjoy it: “Why Do So Few Hollywood Movies Take Place During WWI?”
- Two actors in talked-about shows have recently shared excellent personal essays on the nature of their performances. First, Corey Stoll, who played Brutus in the Public Theater’s recent faux-controversial Julius Caesar, wrote about that experience and why it solidified his commitment to free expression. Then Betty Gilpin, one of my favorite surprises from American Gods, bowled me over with a raunchy, hilarious and vulnerable look at how her large bust has messed with her confidence over the years, and how working on the new Netflix ’80s wrestling comedy GLOW has changed that.
- I was really taken by this piece for Quartz Ideas: “Women are flocking to wellness because modern medicine still doesn’t take them seriously.” Definitely something to consider while we mock women who rave about alternative health practices.
- I’ll always read alarming internet privacy stories, and Gizmodo has a small-but-noteworthy doozy on autofill and the company that collects that data even if you don’t submit it.
- The title is sure to spark strong feelings, but the interview within asks a lot of difficult, interesting questions about what it means to live in an urban neighborhood: from the newly redesigned CityLab, “Toward Being a Better Gentrifier.”
- For Serious Eats, Sara’o Mozac pens a beautiful, cranky and loneliness-curing essay on the Afro-Trinidadian meals he grew up with and the food he sought out during a college trip in search of his roots: “East, West, Then Backward: Falling for Groundnut Soup in Ghana.” Pair with the latest episode of Gastropod, about the history and science behind peanut butter.
Stay brave, friends.
Throughout my life, I have frequently had to yell at New Yorkers to stop writing, talking and behaving like 1) New York is the only real place on earth and 2) everyone knows and 3) cares about every little New York thing that’s happening in New York at any given second. But I have to indulge in this amazing story that will fill your heart with joy if you are in the know: We can now get Big Gay Ice Cream in grocery stores and indulge in the comforts of our own homes.
And hey, this isn’t entirely New York-centric — the pints are also coming to Philadelphia!
Okay, on to the real stuff.
- A trio of incredible reporting and writing on Asian-American experiences.
- First, 99 Percent Invisible did an episode about Manzanar, the World War II internment camp where American citizens of Japanese descent were rounded up and imprisoned in the name of national security. Honestly, I wept listening to this. The text and photographs that accompany the podcast are worth seeing on their own, but there’s always something so haunting about actually hearing oral histories.
- For Catapult, Vanessa Hua reflects on her feelings of being “out-Asianed” at a San Francisco spa.
- At the Nib, Malaysian-American cartoonist Shing Yin Khor asks, “What Would Yellow Ranger Do?” There is a straight line between Manzanar and the “innocent” racism she describes in this comic.
- Meanwhile, the Atlantic‘s Adrienne LaFrance tells us how not to write about Hawaii.
- From the Chicago Reader, KT Hawbaker-Krohn writes about protest as self-care, and why direct action feels better than consumerism. Pair her exploration of toxic masculinity and rape culture at the University of Iowa with Jess Zimmerman’s “Why Is Male Anger So Threatening?” for Dame.
- I’m reconnecting with my love of stories about sustainability, which has, inevitably, brought me to the great Civil Eats. This article examines Letters to a Young Farmer, and what farming (speaking of direct action) means both timelessly and in the present.
- Writing for American Anthropologist, Jonah Rubin deconstructs a viral image about media bias and news literacy, and what extreme political views actually mean about those who hold them. Follow up with famed/respected media critic David Carr’s syllabus for his “Press Play” master class on understanding the news.
Stay brave, friends.
Lots of antisemitism around social media right now, with many people outraged that “no one is talking about this” and “why isn’t this screaming from every headline?” It’s… exhausting to watch. I feel immensely conflicted about it, as someone who has cared and shouted about antisemitism for a long time. My first reaction is Where have you all been? It took bomb threats and grave desecration to bring you in on this? I feel overexposed, especially when I know how hypocritical and toxic conversations about antisemitism can be.
I am trying to let down my guard and not feel suspicious that this is simply an under-mined source of outrage and clicks. At the same time, I’m moved and relieved by how quickly other communities have come to our aid. You can’t understate the trauma of seeing tombstones knocked over — there is a straight line from that act to the Holocaust. It is really, really not weird that Jews and Muslims would get along and support each other, but it is gratifying to see that we truly have each others’ backs, in action and in word.
Folks who have been in this position, do you have any advice for dealing with these feelings? I’d really appreciate any links in the comments or on Twitter.
- If you’re looking for some Jews not taking this shit lying down, I urge you to read the absolutely delightful and excellently titled “So a Nazi Walks Into an Iron Bar,” about Meyer Lansky, Jewish gangsters and 1930s-style direct action.
- There’s always plenty to say about the Oscars, but Imran Siddiquee, writing for BuzzFeed, has a point we shouldn’t lose sight of: “What Will It Take for Dev Patel to Be a Leading Man?“
- Only ’80s and ’90s kids will understand this, &c &c &c: “The Melancholy of Don Bluth,” a look at what set films like All Dogs Go to Heaven, An American Tail and The Secret of NIMH apart from all the rest.
- From Racked, do not miss Laura Turner’s “What Do We Do With the Clothing of Grief?” The dress I wore to my mom’s funeral still hangs in my closet. I haven’t worn it again, but I don’t know if I can give it up.
- For just some lovely reflection on religion and identity, from Ravishly, take a look at “Finding My Rebel Catholicism in Mexico City” by Michelle Threadgould.
I have another personal essay up at Screwball Heroine, about the weird composite imaginary man I want to find and fall in love with: “To all my future husbands.”
Stay brave, friends.
Have you seen Hidden Figures? You absolutely need to see Hidden Figures, a movie that makes no apologies for its brilliant Black women and for its depiction of the systems that humiliated and suppressed them. I just get really excited whenever I see that it’s doing well, and for a non-scifi film, it’s inspiring some incredible fanart. My favorite is this set of watercolors by Stella Blu, which I very much hope she’ll make available as prints:
I’m looking for inspiring and gorgeous art to put on my walls, given how close we are to the coming four years. Shepard “Obama Hope Poster” Fairey and two other artists are blasting through a Kickstarter campaign to flood Washington, D.C., with resistance images for an inauguration that’s banning large signs; for a $50 pledge, you can get a signed copy of your favorite print, plus unsigned versions of all five stunning images. The wonderful Summer Pierre is also doing limited-edition print runs of her Obama farewell address cartoon, as well as her 2017 resolutions for hope and action — proceeds go to charities addressing hunger and education.
On the personal essay side of things, I’ve also been thinking about spaces this week. At my site Screwball Heroine, “Portal fantasy, Williamsburg, Brooklyn” takes on the interior worlds of depression and the rejuvenating promise of a little retail therapy.
Okay, on to the rest.
- Romper editor and no-bullshit straight-talker EJ Dickson is having a C-section on Feb. 8 and she couldn’t be happier to tell you why. A great essay on women’s bodies, women’s choices and the social pressure to allow others to control both.
- You’d think, from the reporting, that the vast, undifferentiated middle of the country is nothing but working-class whites as far as the eye can see. Alia Hanna Habib grew up Arab-American in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a town as Rust Belt-dead as you could wish for, and her perspective deserves your attention.
- Ariel Aberg-Riger comes from Sheffield, Alabama, another part of the country facing strange political times. Her comic “How Does One Undam?” takes on hometown changes, the Tennessee Valley Authority and what happens to family roots in interesting times.
- Have I missed an opportunity to scare the pants off anyone today? Ned Resnikoff’s “The center has fallen, and white nationalism is filling the vacuum” for ThinkProgress should do the trick. There’s also the horrifying German court decision that an attempt to burn down a synagogue in 2014 wasn’t antisemitic because it was somehow a legitimate expression of protest against the actions of the Israeli government. That… is actually a textbook definition of antisemitism, so… cool.
- It’s no good leaving you curled up in a ball, though, so to bring some joy back into your life: Meet Daliyah Marie Arana, an incredible 4-year-old who has already read more than a thousand books and whose photos with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden have given me hope for the future for once.
Stay brave, friends.
There’s still goodness in the world:
As I type this, Sen. Jeff Sessions, the man too racist to be a federal judge in the 1980s, is undergoing confirmation hearings for the post of attorney general. Civil rights lion Rep. John Lewis and, in a first for the nation, a sitting senator, Cory Booker of New Jersey, will actually testify against Sessions. Pretty galling that it got this far, but I suspect we’ll be saying that a lot over the next few years. If you need some fortifying banter, I recommend you check out the Says Who? podcast, by journalists/hilarious people/angry progressives Maureen Johnson and Dan “@MayorEmanuel” Sinker. The latest episode is called “Flashlight in the Darknesscast,” to give you a taste of tone.
I’d also like to promote the first of a series of personal essays I’m committing to writing this year, as part of the #52essays17 challenge. Over the years, I’ve come to love online advice columnists, from Dear Sugar to Captain Awkward to Mallory Ortberg’s new, improved Prudence. Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Polly can be so good when she’s good, but when she’s bad, she totally misses gigantic signal flares and gives a very depressed person the worst advice she could. I should know. Read on in “Our Lady of Broken Pheromones” at Screwball Heroine.
- Republicans are hellbent on defunding Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that no federal money has gone to abortion care — a legal medical procedure and personal right! — since the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976. Women should have access to abortion, and cutting off access won’t make abortions stop, it will only make them more dangerous. Read Rebecca Traister’s latest in New York magazine for more on that (and also). But if you don’t know what Planned Parenthood does, day to day, you should. Comics artists Tillie Walden and Anna Sellheim show you what taking care of women really looks like.
- I go back and forth on some Vox takes. On the one hand, there’s nothing boring to women or people with health problems about the government taking away access to life-saving medical care for the sake of politics. On the other, Cornell University professor Thomas Pepinsky thinks Americans have a much too apocalyptic vision of what living under an authoritarian state really looks like.
- Oh hey, speaking of exciting times! In one day — yesterday — sixteen Jewish community centers across the country faced bomb threats. But sure, antisemitism isn’t a thing and Trump’s election hasn’t emboldened bigotry — after all, Jared and Ivanka are observant Jews! Yeah… about Jared Kushner and expendable court Jews.
- Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk is one of the best grief memoirs I’ve ever read, and so I’m eager to see just about anything she does next. I wouldn’t have necessarily called “In Search of Post-Brexit England, and Swans,” but the bird theme is unmistakable. So much of the conversation around both Brexit and the Trump “win” are about what nations have somehow lost. So, what does that look like? What does that mean?
- Two very different profiles, on big subjects that we shouldn’t be scared of: First, for New York magazine, a photo essay on what it actually looks like to raise a child with Zika-related microcephaly. Next, for the New York Times Magazine, “One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die.” I never expected to read the words “quirky hospice” ever in my life, but this isn’t some twee hipster bullshit — this is about figuring out how to honor your most essential self. Pair with another New York Times essay, briefer, which invites some conversation of its own: “The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage.”
Stay brave, friends.
Hey, we’ve done it! (She said, incautiously, with 36-ish hours to go.) 2016 is still sucker-punching us with all it’s got, right down to the wire, of course. I’m not even a huge Star Wars fan, but the outpouring of raw, ragged grief at losing Carrie Fisher has really overwhelmed me. That her mother, Debbie Reynolds, would die a day later is just… well. If you’re going to read one Carrie Fisher thinkpiece, make it Anne Theriault’s “General Leia Organa Is the Hero We Need Right Now.” This started as a widely shared Twitter thread, and I’m glad to see it in a more permanent, shareable format.
(The full-sized original of that is by Julian Callos, by the way. I wish there was a print available, but it seems to have been a charity painting, so there’s just the one.)
So, how are we going to round out this flaming shitstorm of a year? Mad as hell, for the most part.
- Madeleine Davies, writing for Jezebel, speaks for so many of us, I think, in “Becoming Ugly,” an essay about the fury of the constant humiliation of baked-in cultural misogyny. It starts off with young Davies dick-punching an asshole teenage boy, and the injustice that followed. I don’t know any woman who doesn’t identify, somehow.
- One of the Rockettes spoke to Marie Claire about the command performance at Donald Trump’s inauguration. Meanwhile, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned rather than sing for that event; more than 20,000 Mormons have signed a Change.org petition to get the group out of their commitment.
- Just what the transition needed: Israel/Palestine bristling up again. Michael Koplow, policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, has an even-handed explanation of what the UN resolution condemning settlements will actually do to the peace process.
- You’re not going to get a much better polemic against this year than Chris Kluwe’s “Fuck You, Donald Trump.” It lays the blame where it belongs: everywhere. On the “a plague on all your journalistic houses” note, pair with Dan Gillmor’s “Fix the Demand Side of News Too,” a call for media literacy, now more than ever.
- And yet, at the bottom of Pandora’s box, there was hope. WYNC podcast Note to Self re-aired its episode on FOMO versus “the joy of missing out” — an actually excellent conversation about presence, mindfulness and overload, particularly in that everything we complain about in being overwhelmed and oversaturated with media is exactly what suits the business model of the companies that fuel it. Also listen to their interview with performance artist Marina Abramovic, who has turned the focus of her art from her own body to her audience. I hope these both help.
Stay brave, friends. We can do this.