Things I Read That I Love #172: A Life Not Quite Mine

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HELLO and welcome to the 172nd 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 my murderer’s futon! 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.

Inside America’s Toughest Federal Prison, by Mark Binelli for The New York Times Magazine, March 2015

If you read my thing about solitary confinement I wrote a few years back, a lot of this won’t surprise you, but it’ll likely still horrify you, as it should. New York Magazine went deep into the federal supermax in Florence, Colorado, to reveal the conditions, lives and lawsuits within.

My Murderer’s Futon, by Sarah Viren for The Pinch Journal, December 2014

She lived in Galveston and slept on Robert Durst’s furniture and watched Robert Durst’s television while starting her career on the police beat of the local newspaper. This fantastic personal essay won the 2014 Pinch Literary Award in Nonfiction, and is newly relevant to your interests, I’m guessing.

Chris Harrison: The Reigning King of #BachelorNation, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner for GQ, January 2015

I’ve never seen an entire season of The Bachelor, but I saw the first season of The Bachelorette, which had a lot of Bachelor flashbacks and I CAN’T BELEIVE THIS SHOW IS STILL ON THE AIR. Anyhow, this’s an engaging, well-written, detail-laden and revelatory profile of its white-teethed host Chris Harrison. The stuff about the show itself is fascinating, the stuff about his personal dating life less so, but it all ties in.

The Plot To Free North Korea With Smuggled Episodes of Friends, by Andy  Greenberg for Wired Magazine, March 2015

This was so interesting and incredible, and I say this as someone who has read a lot of things about North Korean and watched a lot of things about North Korea.

The Shut-in Economy, by Lauren Smiley for Matter, March 2015

THIS IS SO REAL. My girlfriend has worked for Postmates and Taskrabbit and Good Eggs and has been offered a job at a handful of other app-based delivery companies in this city, so I know this game from the other side, and this weird city feels more and more like a city inhabited by the people with money and the people who bring things to the people with money. (“The people who bring things,” by the way, are constantly scrambling to separate the truth from the reality of how much money they’ll actually make an hour vs. what these companies promise their “independent operators.”)

Queen Sabrina, Flawless Mother, by Hugh Ryan for Vice, March 2015

I love. Queer. History. I LOVE! QUEER HISTORY! I. LOVE. QUEER. HISTORY. QUEER HISTORY FOR EVERYBODY! You probably haven’t heard of Flawless, which’s why it’s a good thing Zackary Drucker is making a Flawless Sabrina Archive and this article exists for you to read right now!

The Unauthorized Biography of a Black Cop, by W. Chris Johnson for Gawker, March 2015

Dad didn’t need to read Ruthie Gilmore and Angela Davis and Sarah Haley and Michele Alexander to know that the prisons he worked at in 1970 were few and far between, had plenty of vacancies, and what they were full of was white men. He saw Green Haven, Sing Sing, Mattewan, and Rikers in 1970. He was there, baby-faced, 5’9, 150 pounds, strolling corridors of death, chuckling with inmates, rapping about Elijah Muhammad. He was in the police academy when Nixon declared the war on drugs. He was in uniform when Rockefeller declared life sentences for junkies and dealers. He helped fill those prisons, and new ones, with black and brown addicts. He was on the job when Reagan became an international cocaine kingpin. This history is his life history. His theory is his experience.

New Homeowner Has To Sell House Because Of Comcast’s Incompetence, Lack Of Competition, by Chris Morran for The Consumerist, March 2015

Hey so that Comcast monopoly really sucks! This is a long and totally believable story about one man’s struggle to get internet in his home. I lived in a Brooklyn apartment once that was previously occupied by somebody who defaulted on their Time Warner payments, thus ensuring nobody else who ever lived there could get Time Warner, and we were like, “no problem, there are so many other services we see advertised out there that could provide cable to our home!” HAHAHAHAHAHA. The worst part of this guy’s story is that even though Comcast basically ruined his life, he’ll definitely have to use their services wherever he moves to next.

Did the Princeton Preppy Murder His Hedge-Fund Dad? by Benjamin Wallace for Vanity Fair, April 2015

Just your standard everyday murder story with scenes in The Hamptons, exclusive country clubs, and city apartments. It’s wild how much this guy got away with and how little attention his mental health problems were getting because he was good looking.

Shameless, by Sarah Sansolo for The Rumpus, March 2015

Well, my feelings for Britney are not a secret. I had a picture of her right over my desk and felt drawn to her before I knew I liked women, and I also flipped out after the VMAs kiss. This personal essay is by somebody else who was also queer and also obsessed with Britney so it just very well may be relevant to your interests.

For Hardee’s Workers, It’s Not a Parable, by Anne Hull for The Washington Post, March 2015

Adding a little realism to the story Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa unleashed upon us in her response to President Obama’s State of the Union about her growing up in Iowa working the biscuit shift at Hardee’s to pay for college. (Spoiler alert: Hardee’s doesn’t enable people to pay for college.) This one’s a little shorter but you know, here it is anyhow, etc.

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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 3223 articles for us.


  1. Oof, that Shameless essay hit too close to home. I was a fanatical JLo fan for nearly a decade, and to this day it shocks me when people speak positively about her because so much of my time worshipping her was spent defending her, and by extension myself, from nasty criticism about her multiple marriages, her faltering career, and those damned “diva” rumours. And of course one of the first things my friends from high school asked when I came out was whether or not I was sexually attracted to Jen. They never seemed to believe me when I said no, but it’s hard explaining that kind of reverence for a sexy woman without it having sexual undertones.

  2. I’m going to read ALL of these!!!! …aside from the one about apps. Living in S.F. and I’m tired of techies!!! But I still love the internet, of course. Go figure.

  3. Can I just tell you that it restores my faith in humanity that in 2015, someone can still misspell “Britney”? Seriously. :)

  4. The GQ piece was interesting, although I thought it was weird how much it focused on The Bachelorette instead of The Bachelor. Maybe that is a timing thing, though? I haven’t been keeping track of which one is currently on/most recently finished.

    Loved the Britney piece. I was, sadly, one of those judgey judgers back in the day (conservative Christian upbringing will do that). But these days I like old!Britney, but have a whole lot of love for new!Britney. I love “Piece of Me” because it just feels like she is telling the whole world to fuck off and that makes me happy. Also, I keep hoping that Lindsay Lohan will eventually make a Britney style comeback.

  5. I appreciate the feminist issues raised in the Shut-In Economy – 60% of users of the Alfred app to hire home help are women, but 75% of low-wage Alfred workers are also women. I hope the women who clean and provide other services for Alfred clients are paid a living wage, but they probably aren’t, right?

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