Things I Read That I Love #201: What Kind Of Grinch Would I Be To Have a Problem With a Bunch of Kids Dancing?

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.”

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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 3200 articles for us.


  1. I’ve been in a Nora Ephron place recently and just finished the collection with the Helen Gurley Brown piece in it…I love when things loop back around like that, I feel like I am at the perfect age to fall for Nora Ephron’s work again.

    • Same. I saw the documentary on her earlier this year, and while it wasn’t as excellent as the docs Bernstein referenced as influences, it was still pretty great, as anything involving words written by Ephron would have to be.

  2. @riese Please tell me that the Franzia article somehow linked back to your true crime/lesbian murders/crime stories…like, she was really excited about her date, but when the check-out girl she’d been flirting with showed up to dinner with a box of her family’s finest Sunset Blush it just pushed her over the edge. Enter murder story here.

      • @riese I think if you dig deep enough into their family drama, you’re bound to find a really frustrated/jilted/unrequited girl on girl love…and maybe another murder passed off as a murder/suicide. The Lifetime movie about it could be called Sunset Blush. Just sayin, I believe in you. :)

  3. A few things:

    Firstly, I always really enjoy Things I Read that I Love.

    Secondly, the story on the father who injected his son with HIV positive blood is super problematic.

    A) there needs to he a trigger warning for the sexual violence in the article

    B) especially in Queer spaces, we know the histories and presents of the discourse regarding HIV and AIDS. I feel like this article is so problematic and reproduces so much harm in the stigma it resurrects and sustains. It’s just a terrible article. The article so intensely supports all of the fear mongering that is the foundation of the criminalization of peoplenliving with HIV or AIDS (PHAs). I think there are many better stories that can provide more authentic and appropriate nareatives Of those living with HIV.

    • Hey, Shannon: This isn’t about you. It’s not even for you. It’s about #badgerswagger. Remove yourself and your ego from the piece and try to tap into what longform journalism truly means. This is about a person (authentically) living with AIDS – and it’s about so much more.

    • In reference to section B

      “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.”

      Let me zoom that in for you a little more

      I’m not even gunna ask how the fuck you got the article about an abusive piece of shit getting back at a woman through her child “intensely supports all the fear mongering”
      Badger was infected in the 90’s when treatment was NOT as effective as it was today and for very young human far more likely to be fatal than to survive treatment.

      But this is not about you like Zima said back it up and really look.
      This is about a child whose father tried to murder him and him living with that.
      This is not look at the innocent pure non queer angel child who got tainted by a queer/dirty person disease.
      Just look for divinities sake look.

      And please for the love of rainbows and science not use the word problematic to describe things that make you uncomfortable or that you take issue with.

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