Things I Read That I Love #263: Spindly and Unkempt as a Manson Girl

HELLO and welcome to the 263rd 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 Brad Renfro! 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.

We’re Here. You Just Don’t See Us., by Latria Graham for Outside Online, May 2018

On the misconception that black people don’t love the outdoors, written by a black woman who loves the outdoors. It’s very great and informative.

Hollywood Wanted An Edgy Child Actor. When He Spiraled, They Couldn’t Help., by Adam B. Vary for Buzzfeed, May 2018

Obviously I already knew a lot about Brad Renfro before reading this because I was a big fan of his and I thought I’d learn more new info from this piece than I did but the studio teacher thing, that was new and compelling. It was jarring to see Bryan Singer mentioned in here as a director Brad had worked with without getting deeper into what that might have meant for him, considering what we know now about Singer.

People Are Starving, By Suzanne Riveccamay, May 2018

This is gorgeous and haunting and really gets eating disorders so vividly.

THERE WERE TWO SELVES: the sane one who wanted to eat and stay alive, and the one who felt somehow saner than sane — more refined, less mundane, eyes on some rarefied vista, voice genderless and supple and curling like smoke — who wanted to starve and die. Or starve and stay alive anyway, like a curiosity in a traveling exhibition. Or starve as a way to stay alive.

Chasing Drinks with Lies, and Lies with Drinks, by Katie McBride for Longreads, April 2018

I think the theme of TIRTL this week is “I wanted to read 2,000 more words of this story.”

When there were no clues, I had no story — none of my own anyhow. My life belonged to witnesses, unwilling participants who might know the things that I did not. This is the scariest part of being a blackout drinker: not the inability to remember, the fear that someone else does. The worst thing you can do to a blackout drinker is tell them the truth.

The Great High School Impostor, by Daniel Riley for GQ, May 2018

Love those imposter stories you know? But I have like 15 more questions for this guy!

Bad TV, by Andrea Long Chu for n+1, May 2018

She is quickly becoming one of my favorite internet voices of all time.

The promise of woke TV is that the naysayers of the Sixties were wrong: watching television can be a kind of political act, if only minor and tenuous. If this sounds like wishful thinking, that’s not simply because wokeniks like Tambor and Ansari left themselves vulnerable to getting called on their shit. It’s also because in the very act of delivering on its promise to make people feel political, woke TV accidentally proved that political was something you could be made to feel. That Transparent can make you feel political — the way, say, This Is Us can make you feel sad — >implies that the political is essentially a special effect, a trick of the light, TV magic. The full discomfiture of this claim can be shrugged off as long as you maintain the fantasy that somewhere out there, in the bleeding wilds of the world, there exists a secret glade called Politics where the gods of history dance. This will let you cleanly cleave the world in two: true and pretend, genuine leftism and performative wokeness, real life and the stuff of television. The scarier thought is that feeling political is all that politics is. In truth, you can’t book a direct flight to the political. There are always layovers in aesthetic form: in tone, mood, shape, and everything else a work of art might employ to try to get you to feel part of something bigger than yourself.

Janelle Monáe Frees Herself, by Brittany Spanos for Rolling Stone, April 2018

I don’t know if you’ve heard but Janelle Monáe comes out in this and it’s worth a read of the whole damn story.

I Tried Leaving Facebook. I Couldn’t, by Sarah Jeong for The Verge, April 2018

Having never really opted in to running my life on facebook or ever checking my messages, alerts or event invites, it’s not a struggle for me to check out of it, but maybe it would be if I didn’t feel like I was already so forward-facing to the internet by virtue of this place right here.

It’s hard to pin down what Facebook is because the platform replaces labor that was previously invisible. We have a hard time figuring out what Facebook actually is because we have a hard time admitting that at least part of what it supplanted is emotional labor — hard and valuable work that no one wants to admit was work to begin with.

A Theory of Relativity, by Elif Bautman for The New Yorker, April 2018

The topic, Japan’s rent-a-family industry, might seem like it could be just another “wow, they do kooky things over there!” piece, but Elif Bautman is brilliant and this piece raises all kinds of questions about romantic love, emotional labor, the nature of family. Very thought-provoking highly recommend.

See America First, by Ellen Willis for The New York Review of Books, January 1970

On Easy Rider and Alice’s Restaurant, movies that would be sort of insufferable to watch these days in the same way that Reality Bites is because of Troy.

One of the major flaws of the counter-culture is that for all of its concern with the dispossessed, it is as oppressive as the surrounding society toward the female half of the race. It treats women as “chicks”—nubile decorations—or mothers or goddesses or bitches, rarely as human beings. Some heroes of the cultural revolution—recently jailed Michigan activist John Sinclair is a classic example—equate rebellion with assertion of their maleness, become obnoxiously aggressive, arrogant, and violent, and espouse a version of Utopia in which women are reduced to faceless instruments of their sexual fantasies. Others, more cleverly, consider themselves “liberated” from the strictures of the traditional male role—the obligation to support women financially and protect them physically, to be strong, competitive, and ambitious, to suppress their emotions and their personal vanity—and imitate women in the manner of whites imitating blacks, while nonetheless insisting that women serve them and defer to them.

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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 3198 articles for us.


  1. Yes, I remember seeing “Alice’s Restaurant” in college, expecting a cool, folky movie, and being deeply depressed by it because of the sexism.

  2. That Rent-a-Family article, wow ! incredibly surreal. Especially the convoluted “Apology” scenarios. I got the impression that by the end of it, they were all actors !

    And this quote hit me : “I’d started off assuming that the rental schema somehow undercut the idea of unconditional love. Now I found myself wondering whether it was even possible to get unconditional love without paying.”

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