Hi. I hope you’re okay. (Feel free to text or carrier pigeon me if not!) Below are all things that I found inspiring, immersive, or otherwise interesting that are not about Everything Going On. Admittedly, they are not all happy essays. But reading them may take your mind off of your current problems for a few minutes, if only by reminding you of other problems!
Another fun thing I recommend doing is buying a box of mystery books from your local independent bookstore. (If you are in LA, Sideshow Books is wonderful or for the east coast, Capitol Hill Books is the best.) For whatever amount of money you want, a bookseller will consider your interests and send you books that you will probably love. It was a delightful experience from start to finish.
I have also been listening to Dua Lipa’s new album on loop, going on runs and bike rides, drawing with Wendy MacNaughton, and playing Rollercoaster Tycoon. I recommend all of these things.
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- I ordered a box of crickets from the Internet, and it went about as well as you’d expect. Automatic read.
- I’m paywalled out of Vulture for the month, but I already know this oral history of Pon de Replay is going to be amazing.
- Sometimes when I am feeling especially down or in need of a smile, I read different scenes from Greta Gerwig’s Little Women screenplay and it never fails to cheer me up. (I have it bookmarked.)
- Going to bars when one is sober: “The wood bar that I loved so much, where late afternoons were an exhale shaped like a drink—would I still love it if I wasn’t getting drunk there, or was getting drunk the thing I actually loved, and the bar only a fiction I had placed like a screen in front of it?”
- “Clarkson’s post-Idol success provided an ample guise under which reality TV smuggled two far darker bad-faith concessions into its process and appeal: the commodification of trauma and the weaponization of a crown.” Yes, Kelly Clarkson as a vehicle to analyze the ‘democracy’ of competition talent shows.
- An extremely fascinating, quintessentially American story that, among other things, explains why doughnut boxes are pink. The answer could only come out of Southern California.
- Higher education institutions—the Ivies especially, but others must operate this way—are hedge funds that use 5% of their endowment to provide education to their students.
- This one is about coronavirus in that it killed Eddie Joyce’s father BUT it’s mostly a gorgeous and heart wrenching obituary written with such love that it is tangible. Last Laugh
- One of my favorite write ups on Kobe: Kobe Bryant Embodied the Soul of Los Angeles Like No One Else.
- The Texas Monthly is one of my favorite magazines despite the fact that I neither live in Texas nor really have an affinity for things that are Texan in nature (though I do find it a fascinating state, a state that is like a California or a New York for having a lore and mythology specific to itself). This profile of Brenè Brown, who I also love, by Sarah Hapola is wonderful and engrossing. (Her Instagram live sermons during coronavirus are one of the article’s sub-plots. But it’s mostly not about that!)
- Will the real Alfredo please stand up? “Alfredo [di Lelio] doesn’t make fettuccine,” Rector wrote. “He doesn’t cook fettuccine. He achieves it.“
- This is just the review but a fascinating analysis of the baseball novel and applying it to the economic, political, and communal concerns of American life. SAFE AT HOME IN LATE CAPITALISM by Ryan Lackey
- Ask Polly: ‘I’m Broke and Mostly Friendless, and I’ve Wasted My Whole Life’
- Another excellent TM profile: Gilbert Lujan, a man who delivers mail to the teeny tiny towns along the Rio Grande, down the ‘road to nowhere’ on a route so remote the Postal Service does not serve it. Lujan delivers mail, but also facilitates money orders to pay phone bills and goes grocery shopping for these residents. “Does he ever wonder what’s in those letters with the jail ID number carefully printed on the envelope? Does he ever think about what’s in the padded package from Odessa or the serious-looking business envelope? Does he think about his role in all this communication and information going hundreds or thousands of miles from one person to another at what can seem like the frontier of the known universe, how he’s the man who makes that communication possible, the conduit who makes that happen? He gives me a quick look, a squint, really, and swats his hand in the air. “Nah,” he says. “I don’t.””
- Ads! Why reading things online is so terrible — i.e. ~the Infinite Scroll~ — and I realize the irony!
- There is nothing about A Portrait of a Lady on Fire that I would critique or change, and I strongly recommend you watch it if you’ve not already. I also think Celine Sciamma is full of extremely smart things to say. Here is a whole interview full of them. I would like to highlight: “But what is a happy ending in a lesbian love story? Eternal possession? We want a frozen image of two people getting married? We have to tell our own narratives regarding how we lead our lives and how we love. Talking about the different power dynamics in a lesbian relationship is the first thing. Then building a love dialogue without expected conflict, departing from love as conflict, love as a bargain. Saying that love is fulfilling! Love can be emancipating. And it’s also about friendship. Relying on that kind of eternity.”
- Okay, yes, this is about coronavirus. But it is less about the pandemic and more about conditions of exploitation and injustice that have existed since colonizers first arrived to the Americas. Because: “How is it that the Navajo Nation borders 80 miles of the Colorado River and doesn’t have access to one drop of water? How can it be that coal and water from Navajo lands helped create electricity for Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix, and yet 15,000 families on the reservation don’t have power?” Ahe’hee to Wahleah Johns.
- What 8,000 Prisoners Think about American Politics.
- Another one that, through the conditions that birthed it, is absolutely wonderful. (That it was written by Dave Grohl makes it all the better.) The Day the Live Concert Returns
- Birding while Black: an essay written four years ago by J. Drew Lanham on race, belonging, and a love of nature that could have been written this week, or last month, or any time when one is black in America. I recommend donating to organizations like Black Visions MN or the NAACP, and reading resource guides like these.
- Lovely new poem by the lovely Sarah Kay: Mrs.
- THE BEST FOR LAST: “Everybody deserves to be in love,” he says. “You’re awful lucky to be born into the world. Love should fit in as well.” William Daly, one of the last Irish matchmakers who runs a donkey farm, has eight children, has been divorced twice, and has matched over 3,000 couples: what a LIFE!