Preamble, Mike Wilkins (1987)
- We must, of course, begin with RIP 2018 (by Pete Reynolds).
- Consider the new stories we could tell if we decided that instead of fantasizing about killing our monsters, it would be worthwhile to imagine safe places for them in the fictional worlds they inhabit. Imagine seeing big summer movies where mummies are summoned not by a curse, but by a request from a dashing anthropologist to accurately place ancient artifacts in their appropriate human epoch. How would our stories about monsters change, and what would we learn? “There’s a Little Godzilla in All of Us” by Harmony Cox
- Who told us self-sufficiency was a virtue and why did we believe them? Especially when the truth is obvious, or at least has become very obvious to me over the course of this year, as I’ve eked out a meager space for myself writing the preferred advice column of depressed socialists: we need each other desperately, in ways none of us can be ready for. “AAFU: I’m still in therapy. Should I be dating?” by Brandy Jensen
- We come from a model where relationships were very clear. The community gave you your sense of identity. You had a lot of certainty, a lot of belonging, zero freedom. And we have urbanized, and we have moved, and we have taken on radical individualism and aspirational materialism, and [now] rules have been replaced by choices. We have massive uncertainty and massive self-doubt. Every second book about relationships these days is about belonging and loneliness. And so everything is a freakin’ negotiation! You negotiate with your partner about what matters, where you want to live, if you want to have children… “Love Is Not a Permanent State of Enthusiasm: An Interview with Esther Perel” by Alexandra Schwartz
BOOKSTORES (a whole section!)
- “The State of the Bookstore” by Capitol Hill Bookstore, the best bookstore in the greater DC/MD/VA metro area and most of the continental United States. Actually, I’ll go on record to say it’s my favorite bookstore in the United States. “But I will tell you this, readers: we will not go gentle into that good night. We will rage against the dying of the light! When Amazon’s drones hover above this fair city, we will climb to the rooftops, slingshots in hand!”
- On used, “unfashionable” bookstores: “Here was an ancient truth: deeper than the fleetingness of fashions and fickleness of desire runs a capacity for love rooted in attention. Perhaps love is born not of attraction, but of attention; and attention requires space for such communion.” “The American Bookstore: Prologue” by Tara Ann Thieke
- Rosa Duffy—28-years-old—opened a bookstore/public art space in Atlanta of black literature and culture where you are supposed to read the books but not buy most of them. Iconic. Inspiring. Incredible. “Where Books Meet Black Mecca” by Kim Severson
- A couple opened the Circus of Books 37 years ago and sold porn and LGBTQ material (and science fiction, and Bibles), creating a physical space for community building in a time of persecution. Their children remember clerks dying every week, from AIDS. Karen & Bob would pay sick clerks off the books so they could keep unemployment benefits to pay for their healthcare.
Something something politics something
- Fran Lebowitz once remarked that Trump is “a poor person’s idea of a rich person,” and Jackson was struck, when the show aired, by the extent to which Americans fell for the ruse. “Main Street America saw all those glittery things, the helicopter and the gold-plated sinks, and saw the most successful person in the universe,” he recalled. “The people I knew in the world of high finance understood that it was all a joke.” … Burnett and Trump have licensed the “Apprentice” format to dozens of other countries, and Burnett once noted that, increasingly, tycoons cast in the Trump role are “people with political aspirations.” At least half a dozen hosts have held political office. “How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success” by Patrick Radden Keefe
- An extraordinary, extraordinary woman who here reminds us politics and literature are eternally entwined: “Stacey Abrams talks the shared values of her political campaign and writing romance” by Maureen Lenker
- Really thoughtful analysis of the American public’s relationship to the military—”When questions like “How long?” and “How many?” and “What’s the objective?” get swallowed up by a defense industry that essentially answers with, “We’ll handle it,” it’s no wonder that the American citizenry doesn’t engage with its military much beyond surprise homecomings at football games.” “The President’s Field Trip to the Forever War” by Matt Gallagher
- This advice for non-Indigenous instructors of Native Studies is great advice for even those who don’t teach Native Studies.
I SPENT $17 ON A MOVIE TICKET SATURDAY BUT I’D DO IT ANY DAY FOR BARRY JENKINS
- Please enjoy reading the screenplay of Into the Spiderverse to tide you over until you watch it again.
- When you’re already in love, the only place you ever fall in love again is in the movies…. Because she loved words so much, she made it very clear that you could actually fall in love, even online to some extent, through revealing who you are by what you say and how you say it and your bravery in saying it, and saying it to that other person. Write the letter. If it tells you anything, it says: “Write the letter. Use your voice.” “You’ve Got Nora: A Valentine’s Day Tribute to Nora Ephron” by Erin Carlson
- Yeah, you want to watch this: “Watch Emily Blunt Sing With Animated Birds in ‘Mary Poppins Returns’” by Mekado Murphy (A bonus: how they did the bathtub scene.)
- If Beale Street Could Talk made me want to be every person, every age, at every moment: the young lover, the protective older sister, the the mother doing everything she can. To be settled and to be free and to have every moment happening all at once so I wouldn’t have to miss any place or any person or any thing. And for everything to be colorful: “Painting ‘Beale Street’ with Ecstatic Emotional Color and Documentary Realism” by Chris O’Falt
HOW DOES THAT WORK?
- So our task is to first recognize how science is already colonial, and then number two, work very hard to do the practices of science in ways that do not reproduce entitlement to land or universalism, which is actually just self portraiture of Europeans usually. The idea of mastery over nature, or that nature is a resource for use. “Anti-Colonial Science & The Ubiquity of Plastic” by Dr. Max Liboiron
- The opioid epidemic affects more than just Trump voters in middle America, and scores of African Americans are dying from the lack of attention: “Falling Out” by Peter Jamison
- “A Mole of Moles: What would happen if you were to gather a mole (unit of measurement) of moles (the small furry critter) in one place?” by Biff Tannen
- Flight attendants and pilots are considered radiation workers, given the large amount of time they spent at cruising altitudes where atmospheric shelter from radiation is considerably less according to NASA’s Langley Research Center.
- All about the American Expo in Russia during the Cold War, by Matt Novak
- Did you know the United States currently has a cheese surplus of 1.9 billion pounds? Did you know the “Got milk?” campaign was implemented by the dairy lobby? Did you know this surplus is why milk is served in school/low-income lunches, and despite those efforts famers still pour out millions of gallons of milk each year because they simply cannot sell it all? Thanks, Emily Moon. (I recommend clicking the followup links to see how Taco Bell develops its cheeses.)
REALLY NICE WRITING THAT I ENJOYED
- It’s just gorgeous: “Portrait of My Father” by Alexander Chee
- like Barthes once said: there are three things to say / about the subject of a photograph: / he will die / he is dying / he is dead by p.e. garcia
- No quote will adequately summarize or categorize this heartbreaking, enlightening, lovely essay: The Weight I Carry, by Tommy Tomlinson
- “The Why of Cooking” by Sarah Miller: “It is all supposed to appear selfless: “I’m making you this pie so you can enjoy it.” But when, let’s be honest, people would enjoy ice cream just as much, their enjoyment can’t be the whole reason. We cook to make ourselves indispensable and special.”
- An excerpt of Mirrors, by Eduardo Galeano: “Caves” is a sucker punch to the gut, in a good way, every time I read it.
ALL OF THE -ISMS (NATIONAL, SOCIAL, CAPITAL, JOURNAL)
- “As far as quasi-religious national obsessions go for large portions of a country’s population, the German aversion to speed limits on the autobahn is up there with gun control in America and whaling in Japan.” Similar too to Hell’s Angels—when a law requiring motorcycle helmets was proposed in 1973, HA and other motorcyclists protested so vehemently that the motion was abandoned. “Impose a Speed Limit on the Autobahn? Not So Fast, Many Germans Say” by Katrin Bennhold
- If journalists really believe that what they do is a public good, they should make sure that it is accessible to as many people as possible, not just those who can afford subscriptions to a half-dozen newspapers. It’s understandable, under capitalism, to believe that consumers’ money is what gives your work value. But when we produce investigations into public corruption, etc., we should want our work to have the widest audience possible. And that includes people without extra disposable income to toss at paywalls. “Journalism should be free” by Mari Cohen and Christian Belanger
- Woof, just let Alex destroy any type of value you may believe capitalism has left for us: today, items of lesser quality are more expensive and therefore we are more sad! Really, just read it. “Consolation Prizes” by Alex Pareene
CONCLUDING WITH LOVE
- “Anna, Maria, & Erik, New York City, 1980” and the rest of Lee Friedlander’s intimate portraits of his wife through sixty years of marriage.
- “Gender is a human concept. So when we observe tree reproduction, and assign sex based on observations, we have to remember that these are all human concepts and human distinctions. They say more about us than about our arboreal neighbors.” “How Trees Complicate Our Understanding of Gender” by Miranda Schmidt
- Markus Zusak is perhaps my favorite writer ever and here is a nice writeup of his most recent book that I read only recently: “Bridge of Clay review: Markus Zusak’s joy in the possibility of human dignity” by Michael McGirr
- For one, “ghosts generally haunt for good reasons and, in this light, are often found seeking justice from beyond the grave.” “Why believing in ghosts can make you a better person” by Tok Thompson
- It’s strange because while I’m pretty sure I didn’t write this, every word and idea suggests that I did: “Romantic obsession is my first language. I live in a world of fantasies, infatuations and love poems…Even when the longing was excruciating, it fulfilled a purpose for me: namely, the purpose of making meaning in this life. Crushes are like little treadmills of hope in the abyss.”