Things I Read That I Love #42: Your Strange Fate

HELLO and welcome to the 42nd 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 murder and Bruce Springsteen! 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.

On Bruce Springsteen and disappointing Fathers (September 2012), by Sady Doyle for Buzzfeed“Too many and he went quiet, locked away in his own impenetrable sadness. I wanted the hour in the middle. The moment he picked out which record he would play.”

No Evidence of Disease (September 2012), from idlewords.com – It will not surprise you to hear that I knew exactly where this was going within about three paragraphs of the opening.

The Boy They Couldn’t Kill (September 2012), by Thomas Lake for Sports Illustrated – Well, here’s a terrifying article about an NFL football player who conspired to kill his wife and her unborn child.

Notes From a Unicorn (February 2012), by Seth Fischer for The Rumpus“My room had always been filthy, but I threw everything off one little section of carpet near my desk and my dresser with the trap door I would always write stories on, and I kneeled there, and said over and over to myself, “Fags like boys, so I’m a fag,” crying and crying, not once thinking about that page from a magazine hidden in my desk, three feet from my head, with the naked women sprawled in impossible positions, the one I’d been beating off to every night for the last week, and not once thinking about the girl I’d kissed on the lips, my first kiss ever, a few weeks before, when my heart went pitter-patter and did all the things hearts are supposed to do during a first kiss, the girl whose heart I later broke because I thought I was a fag.”

The Strange Fate of Kim’s Video (September 2012), by Karina Longworth for The Village Voice – You guys, Kim’s Video was AMAZING. I mean it was the best video rental shop in the entire universe, I’ve never seen anything like it — both the East Village location and the one uptown near Columbia (where an Autowin fan working the cashier helped me skirt $50 of overdue fines). Anyhow, this story is weird.

The Beautiful Artificiality of the American Mallscape (August 2012), by Noel Murray for The A.V Club – “I love the suburbs, and I love malls. I love chain stores and chain restaurants, and I dearly, dearly love the way that we, as imperfect-but-well-meaning human beings, try to make our places of commerce look natural. I have friends who talk about visiting relatives in regions choked with big-box stores and Olive Gardens, and they sound disconsolate. Yet this is where I live—where I’ve pretty much always lived—and I’m not eager to leave… Frequently, I crave the contrived.”

One For You, Nineteen For Me (Feb 2009), by Emily Badger for The Morning News“I’m pretty sure all of us want Sarah Palin’s kid to have a flak jacket, but when that noble goal is transformed into a tangible pile of paperwork due by April 15, many of us will calculate what to do by what’s best for our bank accounts, within reason.”

Cheating Upwards (August 2012), by Robert Kolker for New York Magazine – Basically ever since leaving school I’ve been haunted by articles about how school is even sketchier than it was when I went to it. Also I think the tagline is funny – “Stuyvesant kids do it. Harvard kids do it. Smart kids may especially do it. But why?” Um, because they want to get good grades without working hard? duh

An Oral History of Burning Man (August 2012), by Brad Wieners for Outside Magazine – “Burning Man, the annual super-rave in Nevada, has become Independence Week for a worldwide tribe of inventors, artists, and desert freaks. Brad Wieners talks to founders and fans about how the party got started—and the death, mayhem, and power struggles that almost shut it down.”

Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker 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 2851 articles for us.

25 Comments

  1. I don’t get why those kids at a top private school in NY would need to cheat on Regents exams… those are probably the easiest tests theyll take all year, except they’re cumulative. Those things were a joke, especially the science ones. I got A’s on all of them (6-10 years ago now, eesh) without excessive studying, and I went to a suburban public school, not a top private school in the city. Of all the tests to cheat on…

    I guess you can thank NCLB for that one.

    • Stuyvesant High School is an overcrowded top *public* school! And while the regents are easy, they’re not easy enough that you could pass, say, the physics regents without actually putting in the effort to study.

  2. Oh man the cheating article. I always get annoyed when school administrators and the media and so on get so upset about cheating, especially in top schools. There’s a point, yes, where it is over the top and should be curbed (the Regents exam thing was definitely over the top). But when we’re talking homework I just have to wonder if those adults know how much homework a student is expected to do on top of extra curricular stuff. At the private school I went to, we all helped each other out on the homework, because there was no way to get it all done in time otherwise. I remember all of our top five students rarely slept trying to get it all done on there own, and still had to grab answers from people sometimes, or paraphrase from resources online since there was no time for anything else. Plus all the other stuff we were expected to do (and if you were in theatre there was no way you were getting everything done and the teachers knew it) and it just made sense to help each out. Seriously, the easiest way to stop widespread cheating like they’re talking about is to stop giving so much homework. Three classes giving two hours of homework each is not feasible and should not be expected to be so.

    Ugh, our school system annoys me.

    • I agree with some of the points you make and I wholeheartedly agree on the school system sucking (don’t even get me started on that topic). There is a video I ran across some time back, that summed up my thoughts rather well. For your viewing pleasure, http://youtu.be/zDZFcDGpL4U (Title: RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms By Ken Robinson). Of course, this video merely highlights the surface to a bigger problem, that needs more attention and more rethinking about how we do things and the “why’s” behind it.

    • At the school I went to there were a multitude of different class levels, with different levels of difficulty, and different amounts of homework, etc. There were a multitude of options for hobbies and programs outside of class as well. If you can’t finish all the work on time maybe you’re in the wrong classes. Or maybe you are taking on too many extra curriculars/etc. Maybe you can’t really “have it all” and you have to choose – hard classes or theater every day? Sure, having to work to make money is one thing – but complaining because the level of work in your classes was high, and the commitment to things outside of your classes was high, too…well…maybe that’s not the fault of the school system.

      Secondly, kids cheating perpetuates the problem. If no one cheated and no one got it done on time, they wouldn’t assign so much, would they?

      I had a pretty balanced schedule (granted I didn’t have to work a job) and got into a lot of top of schools. I don’t think you HAVE to do theater 24/7 AND be in the top classes AND do all your homework AND blahblahblah to get into a top school or get scholarships to decent schools (as myself and my classmates exhibited).

      Sometimes kids/parents put this on themselves.

      • Dude, I’ve been out of high school for several years, I was just describing how a culture of cheating is created in schools like that and how it can usually be fixed by simply lessening the work load a little. That’s fantastic that your school allowed you to pick and choose and had so many options, but that is not the norm. As for work loads being lessened if none of the students can finish it, that did happen several times where no one managed to get their stuff done. Usually it ended in more work being assigned and a grade penalty. So we really didn’t see that as an option. And you’re right, you probably don’t have to do all the things, but we were told we did, so we felt pressure to do all of it.

        And finally, theatre was a class that got me and a lot of my friends through high school and most of us have gone into theatre work. And it was not uncommon for parents to threaten to take kids out of theatre or similar programs (i.e. the stuff that keeps students sane) if they did not keep up their grades in their top classes. So there was more pressure.

        You can see where helping each other out when someone didn’t manage to get an assignment done the night before was not viewed as anything but getting through the day? Or how paraphrasing from online resources became the only way we could see to do three huge research assignments from separate classes on time?

        I’m not saying it was good, I’m saying it’s a bad situation that is caused by a bad educational system and, in regards to cheating on homework, could probably be alleviated by simply assigning less work.

        • Yeah the cheating on the Regents was insane (and I feel like if he needed spanish help that bad he probably could’ve given someone a $50 lol) but I see the whole assignment collaboration as somewhat of a grey area. It doesn’t seem totally wrong to help each other out but people who copy straight up are gonna get caught.

        • Dude, I didn’t assume you were in high school ;)

          I actually just don’t really see the educational system perpetuating this at all. It’s pretty much the norm in public schools to offer different levels of classes/etc. that have different levels of work, so why are you saying “glad you had the opportunity” as if this wasn’t how it is typically done in typical schools? Certainly if you chose to go to an elite private school with only one difficulty level or a particular charter school or something like that then, again, the kid and/or parents chose that path. And again, it’s not necessary to go to these kinds of schools to have success in life – as demonstrated by the huge number of successful people graduating, easily, from balanced programs, and going on to be successful balanced people. If parents/communities feel it’s necessary to put oneself through that and cheat at the schools that they have to cheat at/etc., I see this being at its heart artistocratic, consumerist, etc. and not “teachers giving too much work.”

          I don’t think it is the educational system, I think it is parents/kids always wanting to do more to get ahead (even if that means skirting the rules, puffing up the resume, etc.), and I think this is more symptomatic of an individualistic, capitalistic, etc. society than it is of “problems with education” per se. Challenging schools and “too many research papers” is honestly not really a problem I see with society or education overall. If anything, more kids need the opportunity to really delve into academics like that at a younger age.

          Also I find it odd you would suggest decreasing the workload for classes rather than decreasing the commitment to theater instead? Idk. People want the easy way out – that’s what cheating is, that’s what paying for a name/reputation/etc. is.

  3. the burning man article was so enlightening! to be honest for a long time my only reference of burning man was ms. calendar saying she went to it in the season 2 premiere of buffy, but once i got to college people would post photos from being there and i was always intrigued but never made an effort to learn more. now i finally know more! a lot more!

    i don’t think i could ever go because crowd mentality like that scares me, but it’s interesting to hear about the beginning (especially because it’s older than i am!) and read about the insidery things that happened. some of it sounds rad and some of it is sad but it’s all very interesting, to me at least.

    thanks for the interesting reads as always, riese — my subway rides would suck were it not for you.

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