HELLO and welcome to the 177th 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 teeth! 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.
Why Baltimore Blew Up, by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone, May 2015
On a police department with a lot of fucking problems: “As a visit to post-uprising Baltimore confirms, high-profile police murders are only part of the problem. An equally large issue is the obscene quantity of smaller daily outrages and abuses that regularly go unpunished by a complex network of local criminal-justice bureaucracies, many of which are designed to cover up bad police work and keep all our worst behaviors hidden, even from ourselves.”
Frontier Families, by Matthew Hays for The Walrus, September 2008
I read this article — about the ways in which lesbian couples are starting their own families and the complications faced by donors and endured during the donor choice process — totally unaware that it was from 2008. I thought it was from last month. Things change, things stay the same, I suppose. Anyhow, I hope the law banning sperm donations from gay men in Canada has been overturned by this point!
“To block out the sounds of kissing, you turned up the volume on the silver boom box. You pictured British girls in red lipstick, walking through Paris in music videos, their dark sunglasses hiding glances. You undid your ponytail and, like those video girls, tossed your hair at Claudia lying with her arms behind her head on the bottom bunk bed. She pulled you in by the hair. The wall heater hummed and clicked, warming the house and separating you from the living room and your family. Rodney King’s grainy face flashed on the television. The freeway where he was surrounded by a halo of bald heads was fifteen miles away from where you were. The waters were rising all around you, but you were not paying attention.”
The Right to Remain, by Alexis Page for The Rumpus, March 2015
On how the author, an alcoholic, ended up in jail.
“I am unable to summon what my friend Ellen calls a writer’s critical distance, a phenomenon of observation that affords one an aisle seat in life. Surreality, irony; these rhetorical lenses will prove to be past-life luxuries, skins of a former self. Tonight, I am scrubbed down to my ugly core. The acuity runs too high: that lady howling coyote-like and one over there trying to take a dump in the toilet while talking on the pay phone. One woman talks about having been “shanked up in county,” and I have the presence of mind not to ask her what this means. I may be green, but I’m also at least half-New Englander, which means that stoicism was part of my early childhood training.”
What Men Talk About When They Talk About Mary Gaitskill, by Suzanne Rivecca for The Rumpus, October 2013
So, I read this and was totally into it, buying every single point made by the author, and Mary Gaitskill is my favorite and this articulated so many of the reasons why. But apparently Mary Gaitskill herself disagreed with the thesis of this article, telling The Rumpus, “I hesitated to write this letter.. because I hate to appear ungrateful for Rivecca’s passionate wish to have my back when actually I’m both grateful and moved. But I’ve learned that people tend to assume that your fans speak for you unless you say otherwise, and in this case its not true: believe me, I understand Rivecca’s indignation at the three male super-bitches she harshes on but—the Wolcott review was written in 88 or 89, the others somewhere in between then and now; three high-profile bitch-fests in 25 years doesn’t add up to a trend, definitely not a trend about an entire gender.”
Why is America Obsessed With Perfect Teeth?, by Dan P. Lee for New York Magazine, June 2015
As an American human who is obsessed with my own desire to get Invisalign and all these other things that I believe would improve my teeth, I read this with great interest. It was mostly about the booming business of orthodontics, though, and never really answered the question in the headline. Nevertheless, it was interesting to read!
Why are Palo Alto’s Kids Killing Themselves? by Diana Kapp for San Francisco Magazine, June 2015
“It’s been like this for months around Palo Alto — everyone on edge, leaping to conclusions, flipping out, fearing the worst. New stories arise on a near-daily basis: A hotheaded senior argues with his dad and takes off, igniting a chain reaction that mobilizes neighbors up and down his street. Among them is a psychiatrist named Daniel Saal, who searches the Alta Mesa cemetery by flashlight while others station themselves at nearby train crossings. (The senior returns, unharmed, several hours later.) Saal’s daughter, Lauren, a Gunn junior, has been having regular nightmares and has started sleeping with her mother. Teachers dissolve into tears mid-class; students describe feelings akin to those of soldiers coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. Just hearing a voice on the classroom loudspeaker, or seeing some teachers gathered in a huddle, is enough to set off internal alarms: “I always think,” says junior Lisa Hao, “did somebody else kill himself?”
That Transformative Dark Thing, by Alexis Gumbs for The New Inquiry
It begins and continues and will never end at the Combahee River.
We chanted in unison for about 10 minutes. Then we broke out in ecstatic song and dance, clapping, stomping and improvising the melodies and rhythms of beauty that our future required. We brought our bodies into a future made intentionally beautiful with our breathing. Black feminist breathing is all of that: an Afro-futurist faith practice that incorporates the dreams and prophecies of Black revolutionaries in the production of an embodied present that is love, which is god, which is bright and Black and old and always new and feminine in a queer way and feminist in the very first way.
By the way, if you like The New Inquiry, you should subscribe! (I do!) They’re entirely reader-supported and you can help keep the lights on for $3-$10/month. It’s really important to support independent media, y’all.
Our Demand is Simple: Stop Killing Us, by Jay Caspian Kang for The New York Times, May 2015
On the formation of the #blacklivesmatter movement and the “group of black social media activists built the nation’s first 21st-century civil rights movement.” Very good, very thorough, very important.
The Laziest Coming Out Story You’ve Ever Heard, by Chloe Caldwell for Medium, March 2015
I received Chloe Caldwell’s novella, Women, for donating to the Emily Books Kickstarter (it was March’s Emily Book!), and oh man, it’s so good and so relevant to your interests. I then proceeded to look up everything she’s ever done, and I found this, which is also relevant to your interests.
The writer Ashley Ford interviewed me over the phone for Buzzfeed LGBT. To have the word LGBT even associated with my name, is odd to me. I never came out as bisexual. I just wrote a book with a confused narrator around her sexuality. I asked Ashley why it was important to her to have “B for Bisexual” in her Twitter bio. She explained that because even though she’s in a relationship with a man, it’s still part of her. I asked her about her coming out. “I never came out, I just started writing about it.” “Me too,” I told her.