Things I’m Verbing: Cultural memory, peanut stew and how to be a better gentrifier

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.

Things I’m Verbing: Strange fruit, great wars and phrases to maybe not reclaim

Here we are! Here… we are…!

…oh.

  • A secret GOP vote to demolish an independent ethics committee with congressional oversight doesn’t sound fishy and self-serving, right?
  • Look, I know there’s a lot of Judean People’s Front vs. People’s Front of Judea infighting going around on the left, but let’s maybe take this opportunity to advise people to unite and speak out without trying to reclaim the phrase “good German”?
  • I don’t know who Rebecca Ferguson is, really, but I appreciate that she’ll sing at Trump’s inauguration on the condition that she sing Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.”
  • Do you understand bullet journals? Every time someone tries to explain them to me, my brain turns into an animated cartoon scribble and collapses with a crashing sound effect. PopSci gave it a pretty good try, though.
  • I’ve got a Netflix rec, of all things. I’ve become very interested in World War I, and I just discovered David Reynolds, a Cambridge historian who’s written many books and hosted many BBC documentaries about the 20th century. One is Long Shadowa three-part series not only hashing out how much more nuanced and complicated the players of the Great War were, but detailing how the decisions of a century ago are still driving politics and national identities today. It rhymes so much with Brexit and Trump themes, which isn’t too comforting, but most of all, it uses incredibly vivid period footage that I’ve never seen before, and which is incredibly affecting. I highly recommend the documentary, and I’m looking forward to reading his book as well. April 6 marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. joining the fight, so I hope we’ll all be talking about this a lot more.

Well, there it is, friends. Stay brave.

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.