HELLO and welcome to the 259th 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 soup! 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.
The Male Glance, by Lili Loofbourow for VQR Online, Spring 2018
Holy shit. This piece took my head in its hands and shifted it in a far clearer direction than it had initially been oriented.
When a woman is too overt about her performativity in a private context, she’s not so much iconoclastic and brilliant as manipulative and crazy. In a public context, she’s an attention-whore. We have tended, in our media, to regard whatever performative intentionality we grant women as either virtuous to the point of impotence or ignoble when it isn’t downright malign: Bad women are seductresses or failed seductresses, spiderwomen, gossips, homewreckers, Norma Desmonds, Baby Janes, bunny-boilers, Betty Drapers, Monsters-in-Law, Eve Harringtons. It may be that a penis elevates a purely conventional feminine surface (a soap opera, say) to masculine performance art (James Franco on a soap opera), but it may also be that we’re simply more inclined to see artistic merit in a man who makes a spectacle of his lowbrow choices than we are to admire the soap opera’s perfect, blinding veneers.
The Ghosts of 808 East Lewis Street, by Tanisha C. Ford for Elle, January 2018
But despite our family’s attempts to keep our history at bay, those memories percolated just under the surface. And after details of the three murders filtered out, my dad and his siblings started to discuss the night my grandparents died. The motives weren’t directly connected: One was a grisly murder of three African immigrants, and the other a grim story of domestic violence. Still, my family noticed parallels. My grandparents’ generation fled the dusty plantations of Jim Crow Alabama for industrial jobs up north. Taha’s family survived daily bombings in Darfur, sometimes sleeping in ditches, to escape the genocide; they’d sold everything they had to come to the United States. For both families, Fort Wayne was supposed to be a place of refuge and new possibilities. Neither family knew that the price of freedom would be death.
The Tragedy of the Commons, by Zach Webb for The Baffler, March 2018 / The Rise of the Co-Living Startup, by Lizzie Widdicombe for The New Yorker, May 2016
I started reading The Tragedy of the Commons which lead me to another article on the same topic, but a little bit older, called The Rise of the Co-Living Startup. The second one let us draw our own conclusions, the first began with many of their own, and came off a bit excessively apocalyptic about the whole concept. I appreciated its integration of philosophy and the pieces’s method of analysis, but also… well, I can definitely see how this style of living would be appealing (I often miss the easy socializing I experienced in dorms, which co-living is compared to with derision) and I also think The Baffler piece overestimates the amount of neighborly interactions already happening in New York. Through six years of living there, I rarely even knew my neighbors’ names, let alone befriended them, and other city-dwelling friends of mine report similar experiences. The Commons are absolutely adding to gentrification and pushing out lower-income residents, but I don’t see how it does so with any more malice than other real estate developments do, besides its (in my opinion transparent) desire to deny their complicity in it. I suppose The Commons are just part of larger tragedies relating to gentrification, transient tech workers, the on-demand economy, etc.
Trump’s Miss Universe Gambit, by Jeffery Toobin for The New Yorker, February 2018
Hahahaha yikes here’s another piece of the Russia story that nobody is talking about!
Does Recovery Kill Great Writing?, by Leslie Jamison for The New York Times, March 2018
On the romanticization of stories about falling apart and the true salvation found in stories written by somebody who has gotten it together.
I read that line, the closing line of the story, aloud to my students. I read it — once, twice, three times — while they quietly swept up their doughnut crumbs. There might be a place for people like us. Every voice I’d ever heard in meetings echoed in that closing line. Maybe some of my students found it sappy or maudlin, that sense of belonging, but my heart swelled righteously against their imagined accusations. The story believed in something besides the self-immolating antics of dysfunction — their flickering, intoxicating glow. It was gazing somewhere beyond the horizon, past the blaze.
Smuggling America’s Used Clothes at the US-Mexico Border, by Eileen Guo for Racked, March 2018
An interesting look at what happens to the clothes that don’t sell at Goodwill, and also trade at the Mexico/U.S. borders in general. Also made me think of a longform piece I read a million years ago in the new york times magazine, How Susie Bayer’s T-Shirt Ended Up on Yusuf Mama’s Back.
Let’s Go to Jerusalem for Soup Again, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner for Saveur, July 2017
I am here for the conversation about how I seem to get more and more picky about how I live my life the older I get which is not how I’d hoped things would happen
Who knew that growing taller would actually make you smaller? It would give you more preferences; it would make you too cynical to try something again in a new way. Eventually you would have to choose. If you loved the soup, you could stay with it and be content for life. But also if you loved the soup, you could go in search of it again and again, and each time it would wilt a little more on your tongue until suddenly you needed leeks and dill to make it palatable, until the leeks and the dill stopped working and nothing was good enough anymore.
Why Aren’t You Laughing?, by David Sedaris for The New Yorker, June 2017
David Sedaris watches Intervention and thinks about his mother, an alcoholic, upon whom his family never foisted an intervention but perhaps should have. As usual he is dark, funny and reflective in equal measure.
Inside the Church of Chili’s, by Daniel Riley for GQ, April 2016
My new goal as a journalist is to write an in-depth feature article like this about The Olive Garden or The Macaroni Grill.
Did Andrew Lloyd Webber Ruin the Musical or Rescue It?, by Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker, March 2018
Here’s a hot take for you — or, at least, a new way of looking at a thing I’ve really only considered looking at two ways: as a child who found Phantom of the Opera enchanting and delightful, and as the adult patting that child on the end with a placating smile.