Things I Read That I Love #261: There’s Some Stuff They’d Just Never Do In Their Hometown

HELLO and welcome to the 261st 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 Joan Didion! 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.


Gun Culture Is My Culture. And I Fear for What It Has Become., by David Joy for The New York Times Magazine, April 2018

I’m always interested in hearing what somebody from the other team who is currently questioning their team’s ethos has to add to the conversation — it can provide insight I’m not typically exposed to in my bubble.

How Joan Didion Became Joan Didion, by Michelle Dean for Buzzfeed Reader, April 2018

Cannot get enough, love Michelle Dean, wanna read this book.

The Disturbing Secret Behind An Iconic Cartoon: Underage Sexual Abuse, by Ariane Lange for Buzzfeed

It is so weird how company culture can be so ingrained into the lifeblood of a company that nobody says or does anything about their boss, a man in his early 40s, having a 16-year-old girlfriend? This is about the Ren & Stimpy guy.

The Body That Ages, by chelsea g. summers for Unruly Bodies, April 2018

I am only 36 but relate to this very intensely.

Despite more inclusive role models, despite increasing financial power, despite better careers, and despite the freedom to reject matrimony, women remain pretty freaking scared about aging in general and looking older in specific. Indeed, young women’s anxiety may stem from the fact that they’re more financially self-reliant and career-focused than ever before. As I interviewed women for this story, I asked them what they thought women feared about looking old. Lydia Berry said it was dying — a simple “signal for the end of life.” Sonora Grant said it was women’s past catching up with them; in turning to skincare, they want to “turn the clock back.” But Claudia Cho, Enid, and Kate Black each said it came down to one thing: losing their pretty privilege.

Midwestern Gothic, by Barrett Swanson for The Believer, February/March 2018

Murder, conspiracy theories, the midwest, etc. This one’s for you, Rachel!

Growing up in the Midwest, you end up cultivating an eerie premonition, an awareness that the wholesome landscape—the polychromatic farmland and serrated bluffs—belies the region’s more unsettling history: failed utopias, tent-meeting revivals, asylums for feebleminded children. If the Smiley Face theory failed to strike me as ridiculous, it was because Wisconsin offers a whole catalog of creepy occurrences and lurid killings—from the cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, who stored the bodies of his victims in his refrigerator, to the two teenage girls from Waukesha who paid homage to their demonic overlord, the Slender Man, by knifing their friend to near-death on the outskirts of a prairie. Through the scrim of these horrors, it didn’t seem impossible to me that an A-team of psychopaths had conspired to drown college-aged boys throughout the region.

When Cops Become Robbers, by Jessica Lussenhop for The BBC, April 2018

Damn this is a TRAGIC and very thoroughly reported piece on the Baltimore Police Department.

Junot Díaz: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma, By Junot Díaz for The New Yorker, April 2018

Your heart will split into a thousand pieces

Molly Ringwald Revisits “The Breakfast Club” in the Age of #MeToo, by Molly Ringwald for The New Yorker, April 2018

I did not expect this to be so poignant and incredible and then it was. I’ve always said “The Breakfast Club” was my favorite movie, and have probably seen it a million times without really questioning the misogyny, besides what my Mom told me the first time we watched it about how brutal it was for Allison to require a makeover. A few years ago I re-watched “Sixteen Candles” with a person much younger than me who’d never seen it before and I was shocked that I’d so cleanly digested and forgotten a scene that was so clearly demented — the one from the morning after, with Caroline and The Geek. Ringwald goes after that here. It makes me think how much it was movies like this that made me so complacent with how boys treated girls when we were teenagers and in college.

‘Being Charlie’, by Laura Marsh for The New York Review of Books, April 2018

Ah yes, another opportunity to analyze the attitudes around sex I grew up with! Join me! The book she’s talking about is clearly half-baked and sexist but her analysis of it is chef’s kiss

Friend has published what reads like the authorized biography of a decade just as the unauthorized counternarrative is surging on a wave of reporting and reckoning. His book is valuable precisely because it records what so many people believed, until just now, about the state of sex in the 1990s, the images that guided them, and the realities they overlooked.

What Happens When Your City Becomes Bachelorette Central?, by Anne Helen Petersen for Buzzfeed, March 2018

This was very interesting! I went to Nashville two years ago and visited one of the gentrified areas she talks about here and was also surprised how expensive the jeans were, so. The commenters are VERY mad at Anne though.

Cardi B on Her Unstoppable Rise, Repping Gang Life, and the Peril of Butt Injections, by Caity Weaver for GQ, April 2018

I believe the headline and the topic and the author SAYS IT ALL.


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Riese is the 36-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," 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. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2538 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. As soon as I read the quote in the title of the post I knew it was from the Nashville bachelorette article! I always feel very hip and up to date when I’ve already read one of the TIRTIL articles.

    Can’t wait to go read the comments now. That whole phenomenon is so interesting to me because I grew up in Nashville and moved away to Memphis 8 years ago. Whenever I go back to visit my parents, the city is almost unrecognizable. When I first moved to Memphis, the two cities seemed similar enough to me that I didn’t feel homesick at all. Now they’ve diverged so far from each other that when you’re in those “bachelorette central” areas of Nashville, it feels like it could be completely interchangeable with LA or Austin or Chicago or any other trendy neighborhood in a trendy city.

    It’s pretty funny to see the “party barges” driving around though!

  2. I loved that Ringwald piece. She could have just written a thoughtful look back from her own perspective alone, but she did so much more. She reached out to people, she read Hughes’ horrible old stories. It was so good!

  3. It’s odd that Peterson didn’t comment on the way that this kind of white upper class sexuality is also pretty heteronormative, all queer fantasies about Rashida Jones aside. It’s no surprise to hear of this demographic obnoxiously demanding that everyone cater to them given that they used to show up to gay bars dressed in bridal veils before we even had the right to marry.

  4. Jumping off the “Midwestern Gothic” piece, probably the most interesting theory I’ve read vis a vis the Waukesha Slender Man case was that Morgan and Anissa had romantic feelings for each other that they didn’t know how to process or make sense of, and that this contributed to the urgency they felt about getting rid of Peyton, whom they saw as the obstacle standing in the way of being able to spend all their time alone together, being the sole recipient of the other’s attention, etc.

  5. I can’t help but feel that Nashville article is blaming the wrong people for what’s happening in the city. I mean if the city is ignoring the needs of the people who live there in favour of visitors, surely a closer look at the policies and politics of the city would have had more explanatory power.

  6. I loved Molly Ringwalds piece too. She ended on hoping teens would feel they were taken seriously by adults and even though it was all about sexual behavior I also think it appllies to the students that are campaigning for gun control. I am a big believer in the power of youth, we should really listen to them more.

    • Totally agree, and I loved that Ringwald ended the piece there too. It also kind of explains/puts in a nice light her decision to continue acting on “trashy” teen tv shows, like Riverdale and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I feel like people are so quick to dismiss those shows, and especially the adults who act on them, as sort of pathetic or failed, but I think it’s really lovely to see it as her continuing to see “teen” content as important and valuable (which I totally agree with — often these shows have the most interesting and most inclusive stories to tell).

  7. I appreciated that gun culture piece, but I wish he’d expounded more on what he brought up at the end: fear. As soon as he talked about always having a pistol nearby and people who keep a backup on their ankle, I thought “It must be miserable to be so damn afraid all the time.”

    And of course, fear is self justifying for those with power and privilege. You don’t need to prove you were in danger, you only need to prove that you were afraid.

    And that fear isn’t just fearing for your life, it extends to your property. There was a story back home I read online recently, about a man who killed his 13 year old son. He thought someone was stealing his older sons truck, so he started following it and shot at the driver without realizing it was his younger son. Of course, if it wasn’t his son, he’d have felt entirely justified in taking a life to protect a damn truck.

    Sigh.

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