HELLO and welcome to the 201st 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 Helen Gurley Brown! 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.
A Positive Life: How A Son Survived Being Injected with HIV by His Father, by Justin Heckert for GQ, April 2016
The story of a horrible, horrible father who deliberately injected a needle of HIV-positive blood into his baby son and the son who, against all odds, survived. He’s 24, and still making the most of it.
The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans, by Neal Gabler for The Atlantic, May 2016
This is so real, about how nealy half of Americans wouldn’t be able to come up with $400 in emergency money if they had to. When pretty much anybody I know has an emergency — usually car-related, but sometimes it’s a medical bill or a laptop repair or something — you never hear “I just had to dip into my savings.” Either people use credit cards, hit up their parents, get help from their partners or borrow from friends or family members. This cover story goes pretty deep into this from a few angles, focusing mainly on damage done by easy credit, and is really interesting.
“…lack of money definitely ruins everything. Financial impotence casts a pall of misery. It keeps you up at night and makes you not want to get up in the morning. It forces you to recede from the world. It eats at your sense of self-worth, your confidence, your energy, and, worst of all, your hope. It is ruinous to relationships, turning spouses against each other in tirades of calumny and recrimination, and even children against parents, though thankfully that is one thing that never happened to me. The rest, however, did happen and still does. I consider myself pretty tough and resilient. What of those who aren’t? To fail—which, by many economic standards, a very large number of Americans do—may constitute our great secret national pain, one that is deep and abiding. We are impotent.”
Uncanny Valley, by Anna Wiener for n+1, Spring 2016
The topic is working for a start-up in Silicon Valley but it’s the way the story is told that really gets you, I swear it.
My Job Search, by Emilie Shumway for The Point, 2012
On the utter hopelessness of the job search for Millennials entering the job market between 2008-2011.
Madness, by Eyal Press for The New Yorker, May 2016
If you listen to NPR all the time you’ve probably heard little promos for an interview about this article because I sure have. But I read this article before I heard the promos, because I am ahead of the times. It’s about mistreatment of mentally ill inmates, specifically at one prison in Florida. It’s awful, really awful.
The Lonely Hurt of Beautiful Things, by Carvell Wallace for MTV News, April 2016
This was not really a thing I expected to read on MTV, but here it is, a beautiful thing.
The Secret Life of Prince, by Debby Miller for Rolling Stone, April 1983
All cocky, teasing talk about sex, that’s Prince. Forget Mr. Look So Good; meet the original Mr. Big Stuff. He’s afraid of nothing onstage: ready to take on all the desires of a stadium full of his lusty fans, ready to marry funky black dance music and punky white rock music after their stormy separation through the Seventies, ready to sell his Sex Can Save Us message to anybody who’ll give his falsetto a listen. Nor does anything scare him when he’s at home alone, composing.
Helen Gurley Brown Only Wants To Help, by Nora Ephron for Esquire, February 1970
A fascinating profile of the woman who transformed Cosmopolitan magazine into a publication for the modern sexually-liberated boy-crazy single woman.
“I am in Helen Gurley Brown’s office because I am interviewing her, a euphemism for what in fact involves sitting on her couch and listening while she volunteers answers to a number of questions I would never ask. What she is like in bed, for example. Very good. Whether she enjoys sex. Very much. Always has. Why she did not marry until she was thirty-seven. Very neurotic. Wasn’t ready. It all seems to pour out of her, her past, her secrets, her fears, her innermost hopes and dreams. Says her husband David: “Whether is was group therapy or what, there’s nothing left inside Helen. It all comes out.””
The History of Franzia, by Clare Malone for Broadly, September 2015
“…although the boxed wine finds itself at an elevated place in our society, few of its drinkers know the story of arranged marriages, mob ties, and murder that links Franzia and other top-selling, cheap wines together in a realpolitik rendition of the American Dream.”