HELLO and welcome to the 235th 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 Disneyland! 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.
Our Dishonest President, by the Editorial Board of The Los Angeles Times, April 2017
A multi-part editorial from The Times, spread out over six days and looking specifically at three elements of Donald Trump’s terrifying existence:
1. Trump’s shocking lack of respect for those fundamental rules and institutions on which our government is based.
2. His utter lack of regard for truth.
3. His scary willingness to repeat alt-right conspiracy theories, racist memes and crackpot, out-of-the-mainstream ideas
Everybody is gonna read this and talk about it so you know, you probably should too, would be my advice.
Woman of Color in Wide Open Spaces, by Minda Honey for Longreads, March 2017
Minda Honey, fresh off finishing an MFA program chock-full of white people, took a road trip through the National Parks, where she found… a lot more white people.
Can Amazon’s Alexa Be Your Friend?, by Aaron Paul Calvin for digg, March 2017
This weekend I witnessed a person controlling their playlist via Alexa without having to get out of bed and I was like OH THAT’S WHAT THIS IS FOR.
“Would it be sadder to just go to bed after flipping a few light switches? Or is it cool that I’m shouting to a fake woman before I go to bed? At least I’m speaking to someone, kind of.”
How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts, by John Rosengren for The Atlantic, December 2016
Interesting look at slot machine technology and how it dupes people into gambling their lives away, hoping to win and never winning. This piece focuses on litigation as a solution — which makes sense when there are people in the gambler’s life who lost money because of the gambler, to no fault of their own — but still, it’s always interesting/complicated when the presented solutions are litigation, regulations, and expecting politicians in a capitalist society to care more about the health of their citizens than revenue.
“We’ve been treating these people like they’re messed up, but it’s the machines that are messing them up. A lot of the so-called cognitive distortions were actually caused by the machines, not [because the users] were making errors in thinking. Most of them are making correct conclusions based on deceptive information. It’s the lie of the technology that’s the problem.”
Didion & Dunne — The Rewards of a Literary Marriage, by Leslie Garis for The New York Times Magazine, February 1987
Well you know how I feel about Joan Didion and also about power couples.
The Real Lolita, by Sarah Weinman for Hazlitt, November 2014
I’ve read Lolita few times; initially when I was maybe 12 or so (at the time I was forbidden to read shallow YA novels like Sweet Valley High or gory stuff like Stephen King, but Lolita and The Clockwork Orange were okay!), another time in a Women’s Lit class in college, which is (sadly) when I realized what the book was really about. This essay is about the book, and the case that inspired it, and other stories of young girls held captive. It’s enchanting.
Disnoidland, by Dave Gardette for Los Angeles Magazine, November 2005
Look how sophisticated I am reading about Theme Parks in Los Angeles Magazine instead of on Theme Park Tourist dot com! The Disney theme park fanatic subculture is one of my top interests I think, if we’re being honest AND WE ARE.
State of Being: Envisioning California, by Lynell George for Boom California, March 2017
“The California cities that own part of my heart—San Francisco and Los Angeles—are anything but static. The Los Angeles and Bay Area that my relatives set their sights on is long gone. Sometimes though, I happen into ghosts of it—if on a drive home, heading north toward the San Gabriels on a clear day and I see the shoulder-to-shoulder rise of land that demarks the Angeles National Forest, or the socked-in coast and wild weed and pampas grass near the Pacific just as I move out built San Francisco. I can still lose my composure in the presence of the beauty that I know both I and my forebears bore witness to, together across the bend of time. But these vignettes of paradise are flashes. If we’re lucky, we glimpse them daily on a bike ride home, or while lifting groceries out of the car. They are reminders. I suppose that’s why I’m much more interested in the paradises that Californians create for themselves than boosters’ or Hollywood’s evocations of them; the neighborhoods naturally give themselves over and find humane ways to coexist.”
L.A.’s Wildest Cafeteria Served Utopian Fantasy With a Side of Enchiladas, by Hunter Oatman-Stanford for Collectors Weekly, February 2014
The history of a highly successful pay-what-you-can restaurant and also cafeterias as prized dining establishments in general.
Everything I Know I Learned From Vanishing, by Meredyth Cole for Hazlitt, March 2017
Technology makes us easy to trace, which has its varied impacts on our culture and politics… as well as on many people’s chosen psychological coping mechanisms and self-preservation techniques! “Leaving” or “disappearing” used to be such a good one, and it used to be so much easier to start all over. Reading this was intense, and reminded me of some people (maybe only three) I knew who’ve done this or still do this, against all odds.
…there is something immaculate about disappearing today, something supernatural. Think about how we describe hookups who dematerialize, they “ghosted.” I’ve always talked with my friends about the allure of men who don’t have Instagram, they are the closest thing to Byronic heroes we millennial girls will ever get. In a world where we are constantly, compulsively asserting that we exist, disappearing is the last stunning act.
A Clamor in My Kindergarten Heat: Class, Academia, and Anxious Times, by Sara Appel for Rhizomes, 2014
I was drawn in by the structure of this essay, too.
It is hardly surprising, then, that the more years I spent in graduate school, the more often the anxiety about money that I’d tried to calm with such temporary safety measures began to express itself in periods of debilitating depression, leading to the kind of creative and productive impasses that made it difficult for Cvetkovich to complete her own dissertation. It would be disingenuous, however, to chock my depression entirely up to class—even, and perhaps especially, at an elite institution like Duke. Academia, Cvetkovich argues, is one enclave of the professional-managerial class in which “an epidemic of anxiety-induced depression has taken hold.” This epidemic, though “widely acknowledged informally but not always shared publically or seen” (echoing the Institute’s sense of anxiety as a “pubic secret”), manifested in especially potent ways within the humanities and social sciences grad student culture I was a part of for nine years (Cvetkovich 2011, 18). Nearly every grad student I was close to—mostly women, but some men as well—was treated for depression at one point or another
“You Girls Having Fun?”, by Sara Benincasa for Eater, October 2016
Hey you know what you deserve today? You deserve a nice little story with a happy ending and queer content! Here you go.