HELLO and welcome to the 189th 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 XXX! 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.
Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted, by David Kushner for Rolling Stone, November 2015
I had no choice but to read this. I imagine you will feel similarly.
Prisons in America: One Woman’s Story, by Sean Beaudoin and Meg Worden for The Weeeklings, October 2015
This is so good. If you like Orange is the New Black or about the real actual criminal justice system in this country you really should read this, but even if you don’t care about either of those things you should read this. It’s an interview with Meg Worden, who spent 23 months in a women’s prison camp in Texas for Conspiracy to Distribute Ecstasy. She has insight on the prison experience, and how the post-prison experience amounts to a life sentence, how sexual tension is handled behind bars… it’s fascinating.
How The Hunger Games Staged A Revolution, by Danny Leigh for The Guardian, November 2015
We have tickets for tonight’s screening and last night I said, “you know, it’s pretty timely, considering what’s happening in the world,” and then I realized that I’ve said that before every Hunger Games movie in the entire franchise. Last year it was happening in the thick of the Black Lives Matter protests we were participating in (and getting tear-gassed at) in the East Bay, and now this year, it’s in the wake of the attacks on Beirut and Paris and the Syrian refugee crisis. This article is about how none of this relevance is lost on the young people who loved the books and love the movie, and it’s a pretty interesting investigation of it all.
My Own Private Detroit, by Muna Mire and Messiah Rhodes for The New Inquiry, October 2015
The development in Detroit is making certain areas of the city “safer” through private security and opening itself up to city services like public transit, but the poorer areas of the city remain deeply hazardous places to live. Those most vulnerable to crime remain the most vulnerable to harassment and violence from police and private security companies endowed with police power. It’s an excellently reported piece that takes you all over the cities and the suburbs to explore this gulf and the influence of Quicken Loans on the whole damn place.
Living and Dying on Airbnb, by Zak Stone for Medium, November 2015
Because Stef did not prepare me for the fact that an actual bloody death would occur near the top of this essay, I am going to prepare you for that fact before guiding you in this direction. I’m not sure how I feel about its conclusions — I am not a fan of air bnb’s business operations in genereal, particularly what they’re doing for occupancy rates in major cities (San Francisco’s housing crisis has been magnified by wealthy people keeping old properties when they move to new ones, renting the old ones out), but do they have an obligation to throughly vet for safety all their properties? It’s a powerful and devastating story, regardless.
Life and Death in a Troubled Teen Boot Camp, by Jesse Hyde for Rolling Stone, November 2015
This must be the third or fourth or even fifth article I’ve shared here on this topic. And yet. AND YET. AND YET I READ ON, HORRIFIED OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
America’s Poorest White Town, by Chris McGrealy for The Guardian, November 2015
The Guardian is doing a series on America’s poorest cities, and this is the first installment — about an Eastern Kentucky town called Beatyville where there used to be coal but now there aren’t any jobs and there’s a lot of painkiller addiction instead. It’s a sad, important, well-done piece. It’s also nice to read about our problems from the perspective of non-Americans, as we so often do the opposite.
Making the Dive and Loving Myself Dangerously, by Gabrielle Bellot for Autostraddle, November 2015
We just had a lot of good stuff this week I’m sorry I have to tell you all about it. This is one of three.
Learning to breathe with your scuba gear is a kind of act of faith. It seems contrary to all expectations if you’ve never done it before, especially if you’ve experienced the sudden lack of air from poking your head too far beneath the surface while snorkeling. Yet somehow it works. You just breathe, as normally as you can. And the world is your air: your breaths become loud and constant. As you learn to descend, though, the sea reminds you it is there. You feel its weight, your having come from the surface, when you descend a few feet and there is a pain in your head. You learn to pinch your nose and blow out to equalise so that you can slowly descend further into this blue world.
My First (and Nearly Last) Day on “Friends”, by Lauren Tom for Fresh Yarn, September 2004
Jennifer Aniston orders a salad for an appetizer and fish for a main course. As she speaks to the waiter she picks up a bread roll and gouges out the center leaving a pile of soft white bread on her plate. Then she takes a small amount of butter and spreads it on the inside of her crusty bread shell. Her hair has golden highlights and her skin looks wrinkleless and tan. Her eyes, of course, are blue. Before rehearsal I saw her drive up in her Land Rover. Her parking space is right in front of the set. My space is in New Jersey. The walk gave me time to collect myself.
My Birth Story Wasn’t At All What I Expected, by Haley for Autostraddle, November 2015
Oh my goodness this is so intense and engrossing! There’s even a 20-minute video that goes along with it, it’s just a really incredible multimedia experience we’ve got here for you. She gets SO REAL.
Da Art Of Storyellin’ (A Prequel), by Kiese Laymon for The Oxford American, November 2015
I mean, it’s a new piece of non-fiction by Kiese Laymon, so obviously you’re gonna read it, and obviously you’re gonna read it and then love it. It’s about the south and hip-hop and his Grandmama and being “in the presence of older Southern black folk.”
All my English teachers talked about the importance of finding “your voice.” It always confused me because I knew we all had so many voices, so many audiences, and my teachers seemed only to really want the kind of voice that sat with its legs crossed, reading the New York Times.
All The Things I Should’ve Said In My Rural Town, by Amber for Autostraddle, November 2015
My hometown had a harvest festival every fall where it would crown the Asparagus Queen. The first girl I ever kissed spent her summers on her uncle’s farm, helping him bale hay. She would come back to school with the insides of her wrists all welted-up like she had been stung by bees. I wanted to kiss each sting but I never asked. Instead, she kissed my mouth behind the school on the last day before summer vacation of our freshman year and never mentioned it again.
As a (raised and since moved away) Detroiter, I came here just to read the policing in the D article. Not disappointed in the slightest. Thanks for the great find! Sending it to my (still lives in the D) mom right now!
I loved that article about The Hunger Games. I read all the books when I was 22, and had just finished an English Lit degree, so I noticed all the sociopolitical commentary and whatnot, but it’s good to know those themes aren’t lost on the generation the books are intended for. I get worried when I hear about these Hunger Games amusement parks, or Hunger Games children’s camps, or see some of the advertising for the series that people just DON’T GET IT. Nice to know that at least some people do.
hmm all very very interesting articles this week!!
Great articles as usual.
The only thing bothering me about the Rolling Stone #TheStory article, is that they mention Jessica is bisexual even though it has no relevance to the story as far as I can tell. Am I overthinking this? Probably. But it comes across as if being bisexual says something about her, maybe that she’s wild and not to be trusted? (they write “Jessica Rae Swiatkowski, a bisexual 21-year-old blonde with collarbone tattoos.”)
Upon reflection I think I’m right to find that offensive, but that I just spend too much time on Autostraddle that I have come to expect that standard outside of this site as well.
From the Prisions in America Article:
“The point is that if people think even a football star doesn’t deserve the ability to resume their life after “paying their debt to society,” what person does? And if that’s the case, all sentences are basically life sentences, no matter what your crime, because the discriminatory impediments placed in the way of anyone with a record almost ensures that they are unable to re-assimilate once released. Which, for people with no good options, nearly guarantees that they return to criminal behavior.”
YES! Basically (one of) the main fault in our prison/sentencing in America. Thank you for such an amazing article.
i found the article about zola truly chilling. this is because i am a stripper and sex worker (thankfully consensually – though we can argue about economic imperatives and sex work). . . i don’t know. i’ve definitely been told by other dancers that i should travel down to florida to work and this account is truly terrifying. also in the case of jessica the dynamics of any abusive relationship are so much a part of the trafficking – it makes it difficult to understand how to best support the woman being victimized. while i’ve never seen evidence of anyone being directly trafficked out of the club i work at, this makes me wonder how i could really know what is happening in my co-workers lives.
I think I was also really bothered by the general tone of whorephobia in the piece – the finger is being pointed as much at the women who cross a somewhat arbitrary line between different forms of sex work as much as judgement is being rained against the abusive man who coerces and profits from their work.
I’m making my way through these articles. Thank you.