Things I Read That I Love #113: In A Way, We’re All Here To Be Swallowed Up

HELLO and welcome to the 113th installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about The Illinois State Fair! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.

The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.

*The Empathy Exams (February 2014), by Leslie Jamison for The Believer – This was just beautiful, a personal essay about the author’s time working as a Medical Actor for a medical school, and also her own abortion and heart surgery, and it’s just really well written and I want to read all of her things forever.

Death of a Playmate (1980), by Teresa Carpenter for The Village Voice – Apparently this story won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize? It’s definitely a very well-done story about the murder of an up-and-coming actress who got her start as a Playboy Playmate, but I feel like I’m missing the context in which it won a Pulitzer Prize. It eventually became a movie, Star 80, staring Mariel Hemingway and Eric Roberts (who also played Shane’s Dad on The L Word).

Mia’s Story (November 1992), by Maurren Orth for Vanity Fair – Well fuck. This story is from 1992! 1992! All of this was right there in 1992! Yet he goes on –

This man is so exalted in the business—no one has the position he has. Until recently he hasn’t had to submit a script or anything,” says Leonard Gershe. “I think when you get up into that stratosphere you no longer have to pay attention to the law of gravity. Regular morals, conscience, ethics—that’s for slobs like you and me.” The effect, says Gershe, “spills over into real life. He’s treated like a little god, and little gods don’t have to do what everybody else does.” “He just scares me,” says a member of the household. “I think he scares everyone who knows all the things he has done. And anybody who is close to him—that he has the potential of destroying—I think is scared of him.”

The Fall of the House of Tsarnev (December 2013), by Sally Jacobs, David Filipov and Patricia Wen for The Boston Globe – A massive feature on the entire history of the family that produced Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnev, the Boston Marathon bombers. Includes illustrations and is best read on a computer screen.

Ticket to the Fair (July 1994), by David Foster Wallace for Harper’s Magazine – If you enjoyed last week’s incredible long article about a luxury cruise, you will enjoy this week’s piece on David Foster Wallace’s trip to the Illinois State Fair. Personally I am a big fan of the Ohio State Fair and grew up watching my cousins show sheep at their county fair so I approached this article with great interest despite the fact that I already read a longer, and more personal, version of this same essay in the collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I prefer the longer version because the Harper’s bit gets rid of all his reflections on Midwestern childhood that I related to and sticks to the less personal stuff.

A Higher Calling: Philip Seymour Hoffman (December 2008), by Lynn Hirschberg for The New York Times“In life, do you ever really know if you’re missing an opportunity? No, you really don’t. And you’re never really finished either, unless the finish is dying, and you don’t really want to think about that too much… In 80 years, no one I’m seeing now will be alive. Hopefully, the art will remain.”

Mean Girls Director Mark Water Spills 10 Juicy Stories, 10 Years Later (February 2014), by Kyle Buchanan for New York Magazine – Lindsay Lohan was gonna be Regina George! The MPAA wanted to give it an R rating! KAZAAAM! Not so juice, but.

The Secret Life of Johnny Lewis (February 2014), by Bill Jensen for Los Angeles Magazine – This is another example of a story I feel like wasn’t ready to be a story (there seem to be more and more of these lately) — but maybe it’s just a story that will never be complete because we will never really know what happened, not ever.

Stop Beating a Dead Fox (January 2014), by Frank Rich for New York Magazine – Frank Rich thinks we all should stop paying so much attention to Fox News and worrying about it so much, basically his argument is that Fox News is trolling liberals, I think.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3211 articles for us.


  1. I love the Dorothy Stratten piece. I highly recommend the film they (disparagingly) mention, “They All Laughed.” It’s an amazing and undervalued gem in the film world. You might get Stratten more if you see it, it’s also just a great film :)

  2. I clicked through quickly when I saw the Illinois State Fair mentioned- I spent several years working there as a paramedic. I had a sinking feeling as I started reading it. To me, something that uses a phrase like “I don’t want to asperse, but” has about the same amount of merit as something that starts “I’m not racist, but”, or “I’m not homophobic, but”. I don’t have the time to list everything that’s inaccurate, but the piece can be distilled into the way that the author combines the words “rural” and “inarticulate” into a single concept of farmers.

  3. The piece about empathy by Leslie Jamison is one of the best things I’ve read so far this year. It’s definitely getting bookmarked and shared with everyone I know.

    • I just added it to my (ever-growing) list of article links with the note “EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS.”

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