HELLO and welcome to the 328th 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 know more about malls!! This “columnwp_postsis 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 Enduring Allure of Choose-Your-Own Adventure Books, by Leslie Jamison for The New Yorker, September 2022
Wow, it’s a writer I adore Leslie Jamison writing about a topic I adore (the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books I was obsessed with as a child)!
The forking paths of a Choose book propose a conception of character that differs from that of traditional novels. If a character is defined by the choices she makes, then perhaps these books have no true central character. This main character makes all the choices, effectively nullifying her own identity. If you make every choice, you are no one. But if you understand character a bit differently—as a range of possibilities, rather than as a series of inevitable decisions—then the protagonists of Choose books are truer, fuller expressions of identity than characters whose novels allow them only one plotline. Each of these protagonists contains an array of potential destinies, rather than just one. Each holds the shadow selves of other lives she could have led.
The Humiliating History of the TSA, by Darryl Campbell for The Verge, September 2022
Sometimes I forget that there was a time before the TSA, you know? Anyhow, this is the history of the agency and also how the job doesn’t pay well or treat its employees well and also how the TSA racially profiles travelers and provides a consistently traumatic experience for gender non-conforming people and also !! that “the reality is that TSA has played next to no role in the biggest counterterrorism stories of the past two decades.”
Whataboutism: Or, the tu quoque gambit., by B.D. McClay for The Hedgehog Review, Summer 2022
Discourse on online discourse.
“But the other great crime of whataboutism is that it solidifies the online sense that the appearance of paying attention is paramount—not actually paying attention. It is true that we have a moral duty not to ignore the suffering of others, even if attention itself is not the highest good or an especially efficacious one. Most forms of paying attention involve reading and listening, not talking. Caring about something and staying informed is not synonymous with public speech about it. The paranoid impulse to believe that everybody is judging you for what you do and do not talk about is as corrosive as always targeting people’s motives and only rarely their claims.”
The Queen of True Crime, by Molly Langmuir for Elle Magazine, August 2022
Apparently Crime Junkie is a wildly popular true crime podcast (that I realize I’ve seen on the podcast charts constantly but never listened to, I think because I didn’t like the vibe of the logo???) and the host of it, Ashley Flowers, also started Audiochuck? And now she has written a novel? And also doesn’t realize how unethical it is to name an unconfirmed suspect on her show based solely on police information, even though that caused irreparable harm to the man who had in fact done nothing wrong? Anyhow!
Fault Lines Inside the Grooming and Abuse Scandal Engulfing an Acclaimed High School, by Seward Darby for The Atavist, September 2022
An open and intimate teaching style transformed the lives of so many students who thrived academically under its care, but also served as a playground for child predators who convinced students they were special enough to exist not only outside the bounds of traditional learning techniques but also ethical paradigms, which they used to sell the idea that it was okay to be sexually involved with their teachers. Really disturbing stuff here!
Gabby Petito’s LIfe With — and Death By — Brian Laundrie, by Kathleen Hale for Vanity Fair, July 2022
I didn’t follow this story very closely when it happened, but wow, it’s sad. Unsurprisingly, I feel very upset at the Moab police! (Warning that she literally describes Gabby getting strangled and it’s pretty graphic.)
Tinder Hearted, by Allison P Davis for The Cut, August 2022
I had been using Tinder for things that occur only sporadically and chaotically — relationships, good sex, adventure. What Tinder is good at, what it seems designed to do, is make me much better at being single.
Can the American Mall Survive? by Jillian Steinhauer for The New Republic, August 2022
On the history and the future of the American mall and the social issues tangled up in all of it, in this essay inspired by Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall.
Semiotics of Dogs, by Katrina Gulliver for aeon, August 2022
“Dogs can easily represent these types due to our notions of ‘purebred’ and pedigree. After millennia of domestication, we gave our pets family trees, and named them as breeds. They acquired an identity reflecting human projection, and symbolised our own increased focus on lineage and breeding. Lady is purebred, Tramp is a mutt… But these identities are human inventions, and say more about our own use of dogs than the animals themselves.”
Meet the Scammer Who Traveled the World by Swindling Her Closest Friends, by Sarah Treleaven for Cosmopolitan, September 2022
You know I love a scammer story! This one occurred within the world of Anime fans and a group of friends who connected over shared pop culture interests as well as social issues, identity and progressive politics.
How I Remember It, by Sammi LaBue, September 2022
Can you hear me then? Telling you the good news. That I would go to your alma mater. I wanted to be you. To be yours. For you to tell me who to be. For you to tell me when I could be loved, for real.
The Story of Amusement Parks is the Story of America, by Arthur Levine for Vox, August 2021
From The World’s Fair to Coney Island to the most quintessential of American amusement parks: Disneyworld.