Things I Read That I Love #193: I Sincerely Don’t Know Why Poetry Can Be Mortifying But Tattoos Can Be Cool

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HELLO and welcome to the 193rd 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 hustlers at Scores! 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.

How It Feels, by Jenny Zhang for Poetry, July 2015

This is an Ellie Award nominee for Essays & Criticism. And probably my favorite that I have read so far. It’s about poetry and when depression is cool and when it isn’t and Tracey Emin and so much more.

Why are some people’s feelings so repellent and others so madly alluring? As a fourteen-year-old, I wanted to be someone who was destined to die beautifully like Shakespeare’s Juliet — freshly fucked, dead before ever having the chance to know what it’s like to despise the person you once loved. She died just as her love for Romeo was ascending, becoming heavenly. In the throes of love, infinity seemed like a good idea. Pain looked so good on her. It immortalized her. Juliet was my suicide idol — hers was a suicide to aspire to and 
I couldn’t even get close. Like so many other fourteen-year-old girls, 
I was told that my problems were minor, my tragedies imaginary, and worst of all — I was told I hadn’t lived enough to really want to die.

Breaking the Pig Farmer, by Lori Shenher for The Walrus, October 2015

You probably know of serial killer Robert Pickton because Criminal Minds did a two-part episode kinda based on his story. Or because you’re from Canada and it was a big story there. Or because you just know it for some other reason. Anyhow, this is an interesting excerpt from former Vancouver police detective Lori Shenher about her book, That Lonely Section of Hell, which describes her investigations of missing women from Downtown Eastside. This particular excerpt is about her first interrogation of Robert Pickton.

Here We Are, by Scott Blackwood for Chicago Magazine, November 2015

Another Ellie Award nominee. It’s a feature and it’s journalism and it’s full of facts and people and little stories wrapped into a bigger story, but it’s also really lyrical and insightful and spiritual, this story about Pembroke, a devastatingly poor town founded by a runaway slave, just 20 minutes outside of Chicago.

The difficulty of addressing Pembroke’s poverty is the story of American poverty writ large—the people down the dirt roads, living in the backwoods, have known poverty for generations. They didn’t just fall into it when they lost a job or overextended on a mortgage. Even poverty can become something familiar, something you cling to and that clings to you.

The Long Fall Of Phoebe Johnchuck, by Lane DeGregory for The Tampa Bay Times, January 2016

Oh you know just an horrific and elegantly presented multi-part tale of a child who was abused and neglected by her family and DCF let her stay with a father who’d been arrested over and over and over and over for troubling things because they had too many cases and nothing is fair and the world is terrible.

The Barrett Brown Review Of Arts and Letters and Prison: Stop Sending Me Jonathan Franzen Novels, by Barrett Brown for The Intercept, October 2015

Okay, so, The Corrections and Freedom and How To Be Alone are some of my favorite books of all time, but Purity truly does sound awful and pretty much everything Franzen has said publicly in the last five years has been relatively atrocious and this essay, written from a federal prison by a journalist who participated in coordinating government e-mail leaks, is pretty fantastic. It’s about more than Franzen. Obviously. Oh right, and it’s an Ellie Award nominee.

 One big idea seems to be that Julian Assange has blood on his hands. Not even the Pentagon makes this charge anymore, but it’s nonetheless raised almost in passing in an Oakland anarchist squat, of all places, by a transient Occupy activist, of all people, who proclaims: “But Wiki was dirty — people died because of Wiki,” an assertion that goes unchallenged. To be sure, this is a bit character talking, rather than one of a handful of main characters whom we can be certain are speaking for Franzen when they start denouncing the Internet or women, but again, it sounds about as natural coming from a slum-dwelling anarcho-what-have-you as a declaration to the effect that the Multinational Imperialist State of Amerikkka must be brought to its knees by a re-energized Situationist International movement would sound coming from Mike Rogers. This, then, is the author speaking.

The Self Unpoliced, by Amina Cain for Full Stop, October 2015

“Now that I am working on my novel, these social media conversations are with me almost every day. Am I inadvertently suffusing my novel with them? Even if I enjoy them, even if they keep me company? Except for this thinking through I am doing now, I can’t imagine wanting to bring the Internet, social media, email, cell phones, digital literary culture into my novel.”

Birthday Honour, by Haruki Murakami for The Guardian, January 2004

“Novelist Haruki Murakami today celebrates his **th birthday,” the announcer said. I was only half listening, but, even so, at the sound of my own name I almost knocked over the hot kettle. “Whoa!” I cried aloud and looked around the room in disbelief. “So,” it occurred to me a few minutes later with a pang, “my birthday is not just for me any more. Now they list it as a public event.”

Who Actually Made Those Big Johnson and The Other D-Shirts In The 1990s?, by Jonny Coleman for Slate, December 2015

If you enjoyed Laneia and I’s trip down the terrible ’90s t-shirts of yore, you will appreciated this tale about a big brand of douchebag shirts, Big Johnson. (I had a Co-Ed Naked shirt, I admit. Everybody did, we had to be cool!)

The Hustlers at Scores, by Jessica Pressler for The Cut, December 2015

I was surprised to see that this story was nominated for an Ellies but damn it’s compelling, and the writer is quite good. Anyhow, I feel like the attitude talked about in this article — “There’s something extra-satisfying about persuading a man who thinks you’re trash to spend his time and money on you.”— is super-real and doesn’t get talked about enough, really, for maybe obvious reasons. The lengths they went with it, though…

The Funny Thing About Abusive Relationships, by Julieanne Smolinski for The Cut, January 2016

This one is not very long but it is very good.

When you’re in this kind of relationship, you’re as surprised as your best friend would be. You try to make something that doesn’t make sense for your personality make sense with your personality.

It’s Time, by Ona Gritz for The Rumpus, August 2015

Haunting and moving and all that — and of course I looked up the case, and here that is.

When you were growing up, punishment for a runaway was reform school. Your sister was gone so much of the time, you lost track of whether she’d run off or been sent. She was home, gone, home again, a jump rope swinging skyward then slapping the pavement with no predictable rhythm. After the murders, the three of you lived without your sister just as you had then. As though it was the normal state of things. As though everything was fine.

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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 3225 articles for us.


  1. So, obviously I gravitated towards the Hustlers one first, but with that last paragraph I was kind of confused as to what was being implied; she says she’s a pathological liar, but the story all checks out? Is the writer trying to encourage us to disbelieve everything?

  2. Oh my heavens.How it Feels gave me all the feelings. All of them. All the feelings & All the empathy . So beautiful and so inspiring. Thank you.

  3. Woah, that ‘Long Fall’ article is really tragic. The poor child just slipped through the system.
    Its really interesting that most people don’t think her father is ‘insane’, which helped him before her death because they thought he wouldn’t kill his daughter, but now the police can’t get him proved competent for trial – what is going on?!

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