HELLO and welcome to the 333rd 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 the Bowel Unit! 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.
The Virus Inside Your TV, by Isaac Butler for Slate, December 2023
In the 1990s, a group of radical artists in California called the GALA Collective played an “audacious prank” on the world, smuggling “subversive leftist art” onto the set of megahit primetime soap opera Melrose Place, “experimenting with the relationship between art, artist, and spectator.” This is so wild!!! There are some pictures in the Slate article this article has a bunch more as well.
What is Erewhon?, by Kerry Howley for New York Magazine, November 2023
How a health-food store for hippies started by 1960s macrobiotic enthusiasts became the super-super expensive cult fave in Los Angeles where “small spaces are redefined as ‘curating an experience of collective energy’.” Beloved by celebrities and TikTok and rich people and people with very specific nutritional desires, this is about everything behind Erewhon and also about the evolution of the health food store industry.
My Impossible Mission to Find Tom Cruise, by Caity Weaver for The New York Times Magazine, July 2023
I for one had no clue Tom Cruise hadn’t given an interview to a journalist since 2012 and I hope if he ever does that he gives it to Caity Weaver:”What is missing from Cruise’s fervid documentation of ultrarisky, inconceivably expensive, meticulously planned real-life events are any details about the parts of his real life that do not involve, for example, filming stunts for “Mission: Impossible” movies. My own mission, then, was simple: I was to travel to the ends of the Earth to see if it was possible to locate the terrestrial Cruise, out of context — to catch a glimpse, to politely shout one question at him, or at least to ascertain one new piece of intelligence about his current existence — in order to reintegrate him into our shared reality.”
Selling the Seaside, by Ruby Tandoh for The Baffler, September 2023
Lord, Ruby Tandoh is just the most delightful writer every time all the time: “The way people talked to me about Margate was different, as though, despite being eighty miles from the capital, it was already spiritually theirs: very much like London, but smaller, cheaper, and with the reassuring finality of the sea. It was close enough to the city that they could still travel back for meetings. Someone they knew was there already. It would hardly be like leaving at all.”
Can Crosswords Be More Inclusive?, by Natan Last for The New Yorker, December 2023
This is about like, the entire history of the crossword and its popularity in America, and how words from other languages or cultures have or haven’t made it into American puzzles and it’s really just fascinating!
A Restaurant Ruined My Life, by Robert Maxwell for the Toronto Star, October 2017
This was like a horror movie even though it’s nothing like a horror movie? And like, I say this as someone who also made similar decisions to tank their relationships and their financial health to make a specific dream come true in a field of business that rarely succeeds but wow!! I can’t even say I loved reading this? Just that I kept reading it, increasingly concerned for its author and his family.
Nobody Knows What’s Happening Online Anymore, by Charlie Warzel for The Atlantic, December 2023
“The very idea of popularity is up for debate: Is that trend really viral? Did everyone see that post, or is it just my little corner of the internet? More than before, it feels like we’re holding a fun-house mirror up to the internet and struggling to make sense of the distorted picture.”
The Mercy Workers, by Maurice Chammah for The Marshall Project, March 2023
A group of anti-capital-punishment activists are devoted to finding and recording and presenting the stories of defendants on death row, building a picture of the kind of life that leads someone to take someone else’s.
“Blurred Lines,” Harbinger of Doom, by Jayson Greene for Pitchfork, March 2023.
This was a journey into such a specific time I remember so vividly: “Together, Cyrus and Thicke stirred up the kind of shit-storm that neither could have accomplished on their own. For one shutter-clicked eternity, a white man’s predatory leering at all women met up with a white woman’s opportunistic leering at Black women, and they combined to make an infernal beast with two backs, a “We Can’t Stop”-able force meeting an immovable, Beetlejuice-suited object.”
Saving a Life, by Patricia Lockwood for The London Review of Books, February 2023
A week in the Bowel Unit: “The next day, thirty thousand feet over the Atlantic, eight hours into the flight from LA to London, it happened. ‘Something is very wrong inside me,’ Jason said on his way back from the bathroom, bending over my row with his face white and his arm held rigid over his lower abdomen. Secretly I thought it might be the world’s hardest fart; we had, in collaboration, eaten a whole head of cauliflower and an eight-ounce portion of toum before boarding the flight, out of what now seems a kind of shared death wish, a suicide pact in a place where there were only vegetables.”