Things I Read That I Love #332: Massage Parlors, Daily Harvest, Climbing, Branson, Britney and More

HELLO and welcome to the 332nd 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 Branson! This “column” is less queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is 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.

Who Walks Always Beside You?, by Benjamin Hale for Harper’s, August 2023

This story starts with a 6-year-old girl disappearing in the Arkansas Ozarks, and the girl is the cousin of the author, and he tells this story — and another one, later on, about a murder of a young girl by a very small “cult” in the 1970s in that same area — like the most interesting stranger you’ve ever met, just something about it was hard to put down.

We Are All Animals at Night, by Lana Hall for Hazlitt, July 2023

As a former massage parlor worker it’s rare to find a piece speaking to that experience — or a similar one, I should say, because there are many differences in the kind of work I did and this writer did. But she so deftly captures the spirit of the thing:

It defies logic that any part of me longs for the precarious earnings and long hours of massage parlour work, the exhaustive level of physical and emotional intimacy required, the shame that grew exponentially the farther away I slipped from what was once a promising journalism career. I do, however, know I miss the community it gave me membership to, the pack we inadvertently travelled in. I miss the silent language we developed, the way nothing was asked of me by other night shift workers, the sense that I was enough just by showing up.

The Battle for the Soul of Buy Nothing, by Vauhini Vara for Wired, February 2023

An idealistic community of humans looking to waste less and share more began on Facebook — but when it tried to break away from the platform and exist on its own independent app, learned quickly how much harder it is to have the people who love the thing run the thing than it was to just let it exist squarely within the dystopian impersonal tech behemoth that nobody expected to be any better than exactly what it was.

Influencers Built Up This Wellness Startup—Until They Started Getting Sick, by Courtney Rubin and Priya Anand for Bloomberg, July 2023

Mostly I am amazed by how many people apparently adored the food from this particular meal service, I did not have a similar experience. But i suppose that in a way, I was blessed by that because it meant I did not get poisoned by the lentils.

A Mountain Called Her Home, by Svati Kirsten Narula for Outside Magazine, January 2023

Nanda Devi Unsoeld died when attempting to climb the massive Indian peak that she’d been named for by her mother and father, legendary alpinist Willi Unsoled, part of a controversial adventure marred from inception with rifts and disagreements about the ethics and safety of making the ascent.

The Ken Doll Reboot: Beefy, Cornrowed, and Pan-Racial, by Caity Weaver for GQ, June 20 2017

It’s actually fascinating how much of Caity’s description of Ken here is cheeky and pointed in the exact same way that the movie handled Ken. Like she calls him “Just Ken”! And talks about how Ken was being reimagined, then, because Mattel was losing market share, etc. Anyhow AS USUAL everything she’s ever written is hilarious and perfect. Anyhow, remember the Ken Doll reboot???

Ken is the carefully calibrated ideal complement to Barbie—a blank, smiling man who does not threaten the stardom of the most intelligent, talented, rappin’ rockin’ princess astronaut in all of Malibu. Ken is “nice,” the members of the Barbie team will tell me over and over when I ask them to describe a doll’s personality: “a nice guy”; “a solid dude”; and, most damningly: “I picture him kind of Ryan Seacrest-y.”

Dinner Theater and Loathing in Baptist Vegas, by Amy McCarthy for Eater, August 2, 2023

Firstly why is Dolly Parton allowing the show described in this piece to happen, I have questions! Secondly as a student of themed entertainment, I’ve always been intrigued by Branson and its designation as like a Christian Orlando?

‘Where Is Britney Spears?’, by Rebecca Jennings for The Cut, August 2023

“After her conservatorship ended, some of her fandom latched on to a new theory: What if she had never been freed at all?”

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


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 3228 articles for us.


  1. 1. i also read that piece on parton’s stampede and BOY did i have similar questions
    2. i haven’t read the daily harvest piece yet, but if you listen to the (OUTSTANDING) podcast maintenance phase, they have an excellent breakdown of that particular scandal as well as how it’s emblematic of the basically totally unregulated meal kit industry. i love to cook so meal kits aren’t really for me but DAMN it’s pretty terrifying.

    • 1. just you wait til you read it!!
      2. omg thank you for the recommendation i am going to listen to it! i’ve listened to a few of their episodes (the one on snackwells for example!) and have really enjoyed it. i hate to cook so i tried like every meal kit service on earth for a while there so i have lots of feelings about all of them!

  2. Thank you for re-sharing your personal essay! I hadn’t read it before and wow it’s a beautiful piece. Thank you thank you.

    Lol @ Buy Nothing. I was part of the Jamaica Plain group when all the drama happened. Insane. But the benefit of a very large group is that people seemed intent on prioritizing BIPOC/low income/queer people to get stuff. Idk, that was a wild time. I live in Seattle now and I’m off Facebook but I know the groups around me have firm neighborhood markers and it’s a bit odd.

    Word ok thank you for this column!

    • thank you for reading and loving <3

      i did download the buynothing app at one point to give away some stuff but it was really difficult for some reason to actually arrange for anybody to actually take the stuff!

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!