Things I Read That I Love #175: The Return Of Witch-Hunting

HELLO and welcome to the 175th 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 cruise lines! 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 Price of Nice Nails, by Sarah Maslin Nir for The New York Times, May 2015

Have you read this one yet? Probably. It’s been making the rounds. I read it right away because it is not a secret that I’m very serious about my nails (despite keeping them as short as humanly possible) and probably have visited some of the salons mentioned in this article. I always wondered how a system designed around $10 manicures works (I always tipped 50%, hoping that’d go straight to the manicurist, but who knows?), and also, why unlike everything else in New York vs. the rest of the world, mani-pedis in NYC were dirt cheap, like one-half or one-third of what I’d pay in Michigan or even in California. It’s the only thing cheaper in New York than anywhere else. It looks like that’s where it’s easiest to exploit the regulations. Anyhow this was really eye-opening and if you get your nails done or even if you don’t, you should read this. There’s also a follow-up piece on how the chemicals in nail salons damage the women who work there as well as their children. The series actually has already made a difference already — Cuomo is starting an investigation into the conditions for nail salon workers. Also, The New Yorker has a bit on how “if nail-salon customers want nail-salon workers to get fair wages, they’re going to have start paying a fair price.” Word.

Destination Whatever: Touring the Cruise Industry of the Caribbean, by Martin Delgado, Zuzanna Koltowska, Felix Madrazo & Sofia Saavedra for Harvard Design Magazine, Fall 2014

So these giant ships provide fun and entertainment while disrupting everything they touch, like the sea and the Caribbean. Interesting to read following my own experiences on LGBTQ-related cruises I went to as press, which were these amazing transformational experiences that I realize came at the expense of everything else. Is this the theme today? “Nice things for Americans made possible by exploitation of others and our earth.” On my ensuing k-hole I found The Dark Side of the Cruise Industry at The Saturday Evening Post, which I legit thought no longer existed. It’s just Norman Rockwell to me.

Brother From Another Mother, by Zadie Smith for The New Yorker, February 2015

I really love Key & Peele and if you love Key & Peele you’ll also really love this article about Key & Peele, it was written by Zadie Smith and she’s the best, so.

How To Kill Yourself And Not Die: On Blackness and the Desire to Overachieve, by Morgen for Medium, April 2015

Firstly, I want the author of this piece to write for Autostraddle. Secondly, I’d like you to read this piece.

Here, in this moment, is when she was most confused yet proud of me, for learning and inheriting well. I inherited the ability to do what all black women know how to do when necessary — I’ve been taught how to die. I’ve been taught how to bend the architecture of my soul to fit a family, a man, a community, unrealistic expectations and high hopes, lost loves and forgotten daughters. I’ve been taught how to swallow tragedy and spit out seeds, soil, and sunlight.

I Was An Undercover Uber Driver, by Emily Guendelsberger for City Paper, May 2015

Ugh I can’t wait ’til we leave this town and can finally write a “sharing economy” expose with all the apps my girlfriend has worked for in the Bay Area. Anyhow this is fucking ridiculous. The people who own this company are swimming in oceans of money and building robot cars. PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES, ASSHOLES. Anyhow, a City Paper writer tried to get info on how much Uber drivers made by talking to drivers, but many feared recourse — so she got a job there herself and got down to business.

In 2005, Monster-in-Law Found Ways To Humiliate Two Generations Of Women, by Nathan Rabin for The Dissolve, April 2015

A fierce force like Fonda starring in a movie with gender politics this regressive, particularly after such a long absence, is like Gloria Steinem starting her own Lingerie Football League, in collaboration with Hooters.

The Grouch, by Sam Keogh for The New Inquiry, May 2015

Be honest you’ve waited your whole life to read some very serious writing about Oscar the Grouch. Your time has come and it’s fantastic.

America’s Epidemic of Unnecessary Care, by Atul Gawande for The New Yorker, May 2015

So in addition to all the other ways in which medical care is screwed up in this country, you oughtta know that unnecessary tests are being doled out to patients who don’t need them at prices they can’t afford. This is an extensive look at the issue, weaving in data and personal experience.

Hot Allostatic Load, by Porpentine for The New Inquiry, May 2015

This spoke to us. It’s also petrifying when abusers use the context of queer communities to accuse others of abuse as a way of masking their own abuser status, which Porpentine articulates so perfectly here.

My attackers were expert pathological liars who had been getting away with it for years—entire fictional realities playing out on their social-media accounts like soap opera. Escaping from abuse is the most certain way to become painted as an abuser, and being an abuser is the most sure way to be believed. You know how movies are realer than reality? How the sound effects and physics become so normalized to us that reality seems flat and fake? Talking about abuse is kind of like that. Abusers know what sounds “real.” They are like expert movie-effects artists. Victims are stuck with boring fake reality.

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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 3228 articles for us.


  1. I have to just say I find your nonchalant summaries of the nail and cruise pieces to be pretty offensive. While it is good that you read them it would have been much better if you took real accountability for contributing to the oppression of others and stated your desire to do something about it in the future. You just made excuses for yourself both times as if that makes it any better. Furthermore, I find it very hard to believe that you never thought of how tourism effects the caribbean (I reccomend reading A Small Place) or how the women doing your nails made a living wage… if you truly didn’t have those thoughts I’d say that ammounts to a privileged wilfull ignorance and you need to own that and dedicate yourself to make positive changes in both circumstances. It is not enough to just feel badly if you aren’t going to translate that emotion into action.

    • Hmm. Getting mad at people for being Not Perfect is an often ineffective way of getting your point across. I say this as someone who just did this exact thing during a work practicum last week, and had to backtrack and apologize in order to rebuild relationships. No one could listen to my critique because I was too abrupt.

      My point is, if you have advice in how to enact change, lead the way! Attract flies with honey, etc.

      What should people do about these causes, aside from a boycott? I ask with sincere interest. Educate a fellow ignoramus.

    • i just write offhand thoughts in these b/c readers have said they like it when I do that rather than just dropping in a quote, which’s much easier, and probably a better idea, I now realize. i don’t want to give spoilers or provide a recap or make arguments or calls to action because i want the readers to go read the articles… so i say random things that don’t give too much away. i’m your friend saying “hey read this” and then we can talk about it afterwards and talk about what to do. I’m not gonna tell people what to think, I think they can draw their own conclusions without my direction, and they will.

      of course i’m aware of these issues, and my wonderment regarding one’s inability to make a living wage off $10 manicures has informed everything about how I patronize nail salons and which I patronize but AAGGGHGH like, telling you all that would just sound like i’m trying to publicly reckon with my own guilt or make myself look better and that’s bullshit, i must live with this guilt (’cause it’s a privilege) and take action on it for its own sake, not for absolution.

      the nytimes article’s been a huge thing ‘cause so many customers (e.g., me) have been wondering how exactly this is pulled off for a while now. boycotting nail salons doesn’t help the manicurists situation, only legislation can really do that, and workers are organizing. boycotting cruises, as individuals, won’t help cruise employees. we need to advocate politically and raise awareness, and obvs tip generously in cash… like, i could tell you what i do to hold myself accountable for participating in these systems of oppression and what I now know I need to do better because of these articles,
      but god, isn’t that condescending and self-obsessed? even mentioning that i tipped 50% felt self-obsessed, but I had a momentary flash of “oh god it sounds like i’m saying it’s okay to get a $10 manicure without over-tipping” and i don’t want to ever say that. i’m not making excuses for myself? like nobody needs to excuse me, because i don’t deserve that.

      i make points, have opinions and demand action all over this website, but not in this column. the descriptions aren’t really even the point. i’ll try to ensure a less flippant tone in the future, i don’t want to minimize the import.

      • Riese, I love hearing what caught your attention about certain articles. I see links floating around to lots of the articles that you recommend, but I end up reading them because of what you have to say. Don’t let one person on their self-righteous high horse stop you from speaking personally.

    • I’m not preaching here; it’s just my personal view and actions. Preaching always ends up smelling like hypocrisy.

      Everybody wants cheaper products and I’m not talking about trashy things. You want your clothes to look good on you but pay less for it. And this applies to almost everything and everybody.

      The big problem is that most people think that things are cheaper just because now we use better and more advance technology. Really? Is that the only reason? This means that Asia has better technology than the US? The cost of labor and the lack of regulation or protection for workers has nothing to do with this?

      Maybe Apple plays by the rules and laws and their chinese workers are the highest paid workers in the world (I have some mayor doubts about this). But we all know what happens with the fashion/clothing industry; an industry that today still operates like we still lived in the XIX century.

      Cheaper clothing, cheaper nails, cheaper shoes, cheaper food, cheaper whatever comes from only one place: the exploitation of millions of people around the world. And we need to be aware of this, awareness is a big step, the first and more important step we can take.

      My action about this matter is that I don’t buy things like some crazy person high on Meth, I don’t need 20 jeans in my closet if I’m only gonna use 3.

      I don’t buy a phone every year, a new computer every year, I use most of my things until the time they died (I have a bit of an advantage here because my father is an electronic technician, so he can fix almost anything). If I buy something, I try to buy the best for my needs, so this means I’m gonna be a crazed searcher before that.

      Yes, I know, it sounds stupid and simplistic, but it’s an small step and I don’t hear my conscience screaming out loud at me like I did before. I still hear some screamings sometimes, but I’m working on it.

      Sorry, Riese, but I don’t need you to tell me that I need to repent myself because I love my Levi’s. I don’t need you to self-flagellate and berate yourself to teach me something. As most human beings, I can read and I can have my own opinion on a bunch of matters.

      So, be cool and keep the good work.

  2. Couldn’t finish reading Hot Allostatic Load too much relatedish to my childhood ow and feeding that part of me that wants/ed to the world to burn, wants/ed humanity wiped off the face of the Earth because we deserve it. :C

  3. oh so much good reading here, Riese, thank you.

    especially Hot Allostatic Load. it brought me to tears for multiple reasons, but especially the pieces that resonated with my chronic pain.

    “Laziness is not laziness, it is many things: avoiding encountering one’s own body, avoiding triggers, avoiding thinking about the future because it’s proven to be unbearable. Slashing the Gordian Knot isn’t a sign of strength; it’s a sign of exhaustion.”

    (also, also. it seems to me that first comment in this thread really should have been a personal/private message. i would encourage folks to think about what should be communicated publicly and what should be private (that is, one-on-one). public messages/comments are about creating a conversation. if you mean to direct something critical to a specific person, contact that person.)

  4. I’ve been saving this link for a week because I remembered TIRTIL became bi-weekly! It’s a moving piece about the suicide of a college athlete. Hits close to home since I’m also a college athlete who’s had dark periods. A hard, important, well-written read.

    Also I just read this article and it’s the back story of the defense lawyer for Tsarnaev and how this is the one death penalty case she’s lost and how her perfect record has been kept. I wish they had discussed more why this one went awry, but I guess the decision was so recent there’s not been enough time for analysis.

    • Thank you for the links! The second one I totally remember reading, it was super-good, but the first one I had not heard of and eagerly anticipate doing so! thanks for holding these for two weeks for this moment <3

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