Things I Read That I Love #217: Outcasts, Weirdos, Dweebs, Punks, Shy Kids, Cartoon Fanatics, and Serial Fidgeters

HELLO and welcome to the 217th 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 Tees into Treasure! 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.

My President Was Black, by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic, January 2017

Here we have the must-read of the month / year. Set aside an hour and sit down with this analysis / insight / interview / gift.

Obama was born into a country where laws barring his very conception—let alone his ascendancy to the presidency—had long stood in force. A black president would always be a contradiction for a government that, throughout most of its history, had oppressed black people. The attempt to resolve this contradiction through Obama—a black man with deep roots in the white world—was remarkable. The price it exacted, incredible. The world it gave way to, unthinkable.

Meet the New Kochs: The DeVos Clan’s Plan to Defund the Left, by Andy Kroll for Mother Jones, January/February 2014

I’ve been down a Betsy DeVos wormhole since her appointment, y’all, because this woman has FUCKED with the Detroit Public School system like the absolute MONSTER that she is and now she’s Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Educaiton which brings me to…

A Sea of Charter Schools in Detroit Leaves Students Adrift, by Kate Zernike for The New York Times, June 2016

If anybody you know is ignorant enough to share this piece of nonsense from The Wall Street Journal with you, then this is the article you share with them.

The Art of Pee-wee, by Eric Ducker for The Verge, March 2016

I think this is the second time I’ve posted an article about Pee-Wee Herman, so I won’t re-tell you that my brother and I were obsessed with this show as children, because maybe I already have. But this is a fascinating angle to look at the show from and that angle is “art.”

We weren’t from the closed-off professional world of set design and puppeteering. We were from this open world of art. We felt complete freedom to borrow from any source we could. I was thinking a lot about German Expressionism and Little Golden Books from the ’50s. We were all thinking about toys from the ’50s and ’60s, too. We were thinking about abstract painting. You name it, we would throw it in there.

The Vanishing Underground: Oakland’s Housing Crisis Is Also Displacing its Arts and Music Counterculture, By Nastia Voynovskaya for the East Bay Express, September 2016

I read this when I was writing about Ghost Ship and it’s a really good read.

Chicago State State of Mind, by Derrick Harriell for The Los Angeles Review of Books, February 2016

This is mostly the author’s story of his time studying in Chicago State University’s M.F.A. program, which is centered on black voices and the study of African-American literature. It’s both a beautiful read and an uplifting endorsement of the creative freedom and strength enabled by programs that do not require its artists to code-switch or make their experinces pallatable to the mainstream.

Farm to Fable, by Laura Reiley for The Tampa Bay Times, April 2016

If you’re eating Local Food at a Farm-to-Table restaurant in Florida, that locally-sourced wild Alaskan pollock might actually be frozen pollack from China treated with preservatives! This piece goes DEEP into how most allegedly farm-to-table restaurants in Florida are actually sourcing from traditional producers and lying about it and if they were telling the truth you’d know ’cause the menu would change all the time and it would be super expensive.

Tampa Bay farmers markets are lacking in just one thing: Local farmers, by Laura Reiley for The Tampa Bay-Times, April 2016

Yup it’s a two-parter! Turns out that Farmers Markets in Florida are mostly crafts and the produce is not usually local. I will say that to the best of my knowledge and from knowing someone who used to work for a company that connected local farms to stores, this does not seem to be the case in Michigan, but perhaps I am wrong and all farmer’s markets are full of lies. Which would be very sad.

What I Pledge Allegiance To, by Kiese Laymon for The Fader, September 2016.

Everything this man writes is beautiful, this is no exception. I’ve seen it on a lot of best-of lists this year and it’s never been more relevant. (how many times can I use that phrase before 2017)

I pledge that white Mississippians and white Americans will never dictate who I choose to be or what symbols I choose imbue with meaning. I pledge to not allow American ideals of patriotism and masculinity to make me hard, abusive, generic, and brittle. I pledge to messily love our people and myself better than I did yesterday. I pledge to be the kind of free that makes justly winning and gently losing possible. I pledge to never ever confuse cowardice with courage. I pledge allegiance to the Mississippi freedom fighters who made all my pledges possible. I pledge allegiance to the baby Mississippi liberation fighters coming next.

The Story of Bev Pennington and Tees Into Treasure, by Rachel Monroe for The Texas Monthly, December 2016

Bev told you to send her your t-shirts and she’d make you a quilt, except then too many people sent in t-shirts and never got their quilts. She hired people to make the quilts, and sold a lot of Groupons, and then shit went down! SHIT WENT DOWN.

How to Sleep, by James Hamblin for The Atlantic, January/February 2017

SLEEP! Sleep that unlikely bedfellow. Here’s a big ‘ol article about sleep and I read it in my bed on my phone while not sleeping, but didn’t stop reading it when I learned that reading on my phone in my bed was not helping me read. Do whatever you want with this information.

Thirty Years in Captivity, by Simon Parkin for The New Yorker, December 2016

Here is a fucked up story about a girl who spent the first 30 years of her life in captivity with a man who had started his own tiny cult. A tender moment lies within it regarding Harry Potter.

Journey into YOUR Imagination: The Unimaginable Story Behind the Ride Epcot Fans Hated, Theme Park Tourist, December 2016

I fell in love with Figment on my first trip to Epcot as a wee babe and was devastated to see that the Journey Into Imagination ride closed when I visited the park again in 2008. Apparently this was a blessing as the ride had been re-made in 1999 and then again in 2001 and the version I would’ve witnessed only would’ve broken my heart. Anyhow, you’ll obviously need to read the whole story to understand it for your own self.

P.S. Also if you’re an A+ reader, here’s 6,000 words of me and my ex processing our breakup for you to feast upon this weekend.

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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 3201 articles for us.


  1. Spent my day off sifting through these between running errands. Thank you for curating long-form — I read at least one article from these per week and learn something new. And thank you also for being so interested in cults; I’ve become fascinated by them, too, from all the articles I’ve read thanks to TIRTIL.

  2. Housing crisis in Oakland. There’s a housing crisis in Portland, too, and I’m sick af of it. Too many people want to move to liberal cities and it does demolish the counterculture vibe. We need to like, all pick a random city where there’s affordable housing and just take over. Open lesbian bars and music venues and art galleries and small businesses galore and when it gets to be so awesome that there is a housing crisis there, we move to another rural-ish city and start again. Make America gay again for real.

    • There’s a shortage of affordable housing in Madison, Wisconsin also! The only thing that gets built anymore are high rise condo complexes that start at 1000$ a month for a studio. It’s infuriating. My house is relatively cheap (I got lucky) but it was just sold to a developer so I’m going to have to move soon. It sucks!

      • I love it. I’m not even kidding. I would like nothing more than to find a liberal lil oasis in kinda the middle of nowhere. Affordable housing, room to breathe, lots of homos and even more trees, tons of small businesses and markets.. ha. I’m in for real. Autostraddle, get on this. I feel like you could make it happen.

        • I like my small town in the midwest! I even got my wife to move here with me. My parents first moved to this state because land was cheap enough for them and another couple to buy some to start a commune (Sandhill- which after ~40 years may be closing) and another ecovillege (Dancing Rabbit) is also now in the area. Then my parents moved elsewhere in the state for school and jobs.

          I definitely like living in the relatively cheap midwest, changing the community that I am from by being here and queer and nudging the flow with my secular love and kindness.

  3. This column somehow makes me feel less alone. Like people are thinking and reading and wondering about the things I wonder about. It’s wonderful. Thank you.

  4. I have to respectfully disagree about both charter school articles. As a teacher who has worked in multiple state’s public schools and at a charter, I can easily say that many liberally minded people are wrong to paint public schools as victims and charters as profit making shells. There are many things that need to be fixed in public schools (policies of arresting kids who make mistakes, racist funding, the inability to fire incompetent teachers). Charters (which receive less funding than public, do not get free buildings, etc) struggle because they must appear perfect to be considered as a replacement, and yet are set up to struggle so much that they often fail. Our education system is flawed, and is in need of an overhaul. Painting public and charter schools as enemies is misguided, and we should instead be wondering what we could do in our own communities to strengthen education as we know children are truly the future.

    • I refuse to accept that “schools” which admit students based on a lottery system and which are not bound to federal civil rights legislation are true places of learning. They are discriminatory and dangerous.

      • Not all charters operate with a lottery system. This is a commonly held, and repeated, bit of information that is not true. Discriminatory and dangerous can also be applied to public schools. See my comment about arresting children. Again, as someone who works in education (and has for many years) I cannot stress how important it is that people learn more about charters and public schools, and then form opinions.

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