Things I Read That I Love #68: A-Poem-Worse-Than-Which-Cannot-Be-Imagined

paperHELLO and welcome to the 68th 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 Atlantic City! 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.

The Soul of Student Debt (March 2013), by Chris Maisano for Jacobin Magazine – This is some really worthwhile reading, for serious. Read this one. [ETA: But I know nothing about economics so maybe it’s not as amazing as I thought? Idk anything.]

Hannah Barbaric: Girls, Enlightened and the Comedy of Cruelty (February 2013), by Emily Nussbaum for The New Yorker “While other female-centered hits, with more likable heroines, are ignored or patronized, these racy fables agitate audiences, in part because they violate the dictate that women, both fictional and real, not make anyone uncomfortable…There’s clearly an appetite for this prurient ritual, in which privileged girls, in their rise to power, get humiliated, first in fiction, then in criticism—like a Roman Colosseum for gender anxieties.”

Sick (January 2013), by Amy Butcher for The Rumpus – This hit me in the heart with all the familiar parts, and even harder with all the unfamiliar parts too. “I am glad to hear about Kevin’s games. There are worse things Kevin could be doing with his time than playing a game of Scrabble, like, for example, not playing a game of Scrabble. On the days I don’t visit, I imagine him sitting on his cot, staring up at that blank white ceiling, imagining not ice floes at all but the days, endless as glaciers, and how he might not make it through them.”

The Search for Marvin Gardens (September 1972), by John McPhee for The New Yorker – This is an oldie in which the author, a Monopoly tournament champion, hops back and forth between a narration of his Monopoly games and a narration of his trip to Atlantic City, visiting all the streets and communities (and jail) whose names were immortalized on the Monopoly board but have since fallen into disrepair.

When Cold Cases Stay Cold (March 2013), by Dan Barry, Campbell Robertson & Robbie Brown for The New York Times – A few years ago the F.B.I. starting reopening cold cases from “this country’s tumultuous and violent civil rights era” in which African-Americans were killed in racially-motivated hate crimes but nobody was ever convicted or punished for their crimes. So this article is about that process, which also involves notifying living family members of the investigation’s conclusion, and “to some, they reflect the elusiveness of resolution in cases decades old; to others, they represent another missed opportunity for a full accounting of what happened, and why.”

What is Poetry? And Does it Pay? (August 2002), by Jake Silverstein for Harper’s – At times the characters in this essay were so ridiculous that I actually checked to see if it’d been written by Stephen Glass, but it was not! It’s all true fax. It’s a really entertaining and interesting account of the author’s visit to the Famous Poets Society conference, which basically scams amateur poets by calling for poem submissions with a $25,000 prize and then accepting every submitted poem and requiring attendance at a sad sad conference in Reno where the winners are declared.

I Wish That We Could Both Be There (February 2013) by William Dettloff for The Morning News“In central New Jersey, a car hits a seven-year-old boy. The boy dies. Almost 40 years later, an investigation into causes, effects, statistics, and consequences.”

On Keeping a Notebook in the Digital Age (March 2013), by Elizabeth Spiers for Medium“For those of us comfortable with the digital age, the plethora of note-taking apps makes idea capture fingertip-convenient. I’ve used Evernote for work purposes and keep most of my idea files in Google Docs. But that said, my first medium for idea capture is still pen and paper — usually in a highly disposable three-by-five paper notebook that I carry everywhere and fill up at a rate of about one a month.”

The Nightmare of the West Memphis Three (March 2013), by Nathaniel Rich for The New York Review of Books – I’ve read and watched so much about these guys it’s insane, but this is the first thing I read that was really skeptical of the whole documentary situation? The author has a lot of feelings about the “unseemly solicitation of publicity” and the observer effect.

The Greatest Love (February 2012), by Lakesha Townsend for Zòcalo Public Square –  “I don’t think Grandmomma loved me much, and she would fuss at me about Whitney. She’d say, “All you do is sit up in that room and listen to ‘Do he love me, do he love me?’” Many people didn’t understand. They told me a black girl like me shouldn’t go crazy over Whitney. Only white people did that. But I knew this was a deep soul urge. I wasn’t deranged. I was never confused about who my God was. I just admired Whitney the person.”

Damsel, Arise: A Westboro Scion Leaves her Church (February 2013), by Jeff Chu for Medium – The author chats with Megan Phelps-Roeper, Westboro Baptist Church defector.

Oscar Voters Overwhelmingly White, Male (February 2012), by John Horn, Nicole Sperling and Doug Smith for The LA Times–  I know this is really gonna knock your socks off, but guess what — Oscar voters are nearly 94% white and 77% male! For more information on this, I recommend reading this article, the results of an extensive investigation by The Los Angeles Times. 

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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 3199 articles for us.


  1. You know of all things that are good to read. Thank you so much for sharing these, I will definitely check them out! They are perfect for when I’m not feeling up to delving into a book.

  2. I love this series and always finding soemthing great in it.

    The Emily Nussbaum piece is the only thing about Girls that’s made sense to me.

    Once I finished exams I am going to devour the 2 seasons of Enlightened. I can tell it’s going to be a rabbit hole already.

    Thanks for continuing to post these!! This series led me to discover,


  3. ‘Keeping A Notebook In the Digital Age’ was truly fascinating, mainly because I have been keeping a journal (in both actual physical journals/blank books/notebooks/what have you and online) in some form or another since I was 11.

    My biggest problem with typing things up/taking notes on a computer/in an app/digitally is that then you have to figure out how to print them out (or have a physical copy of them). A common side effect of taking notes on my computer is that I now have a lot of Word documents with a lot of completely random things in them that don’t always make a lot of sense.

    In other news, I love this feature. It lets me read some truly eye-opening pieces. Keep up the good work, Things That I Read That I love. :)

    • yes i don’t like having notes in text files either! i can never find them on my computer, nothing makes sense, i can’t figure out when they were written… i feel like it’s so much easier to find something flipping through my notebooks, even though that seems to go against popular opinion.

    • I agree: notebooks just make sense to me too. Actual hands with actual pens make sense of the world on paper, and it really sticks in your head if you do it that way.

      Last year one of my classmates informed me that I should draw in a digital format rather than a sketchbook “because at least THEN it’s searchable”. I think she missed the point: if I draw it on real live paper, it’s IN MY BRAIN, and the last time I checked, that format is still searchable.

      She should’ve read “Keeping A Notebook In the Digital Age”. It might’ve helped her out a bit.

    • Writing notes in text files is for people who think in straight lines, as opposed to completely weird and sideways (like me).

  4. I love this series so much, because it provides so many excellent articles to devour and reminds me that Autostraddle isn’t the entire internet.

  5. IDK – slavery, debt peonage, indentured servitude, child labor, the company store, sharecropping, undocumented labor…and the author of the student debt piece hastens to state that the current impulse behind student debt (or the entire present economy, for that matter)ISN’T feudal? There has always been a very intense impulse towards just that in American society, beaten back at intervals only to crop up over again (De Tocqueville blamed our adaptation of many portions of English common law, a judgment I agree with.) But to call it “neo-liberalism” to me, at least, minimizes the problem and keeps us from making historical connections that would be really helpful.

    Anyway, there needs to be a “how to found a Socialist labor party” seminar at camp. No joke.

    • this is where i admit i know next-to-nothing about economics so i don’t really know what feudalism is, i thought the author was saying that student debt is crushing our souls

      but i am a socialist so i am totally down with that seminar

  6. Oh man, any article on student debt just makes me want to slam my head into a desk repeatedly. It throws me right back to the post-grad school panic of not being able to make my payments, in spite of being employed full time. Then my brain goes off on tangents about the shitty quality of public education, the overtones of anti-intellectualism in our culture, and the absurd structures of higher education reinforcing class stratification and I end up in a big ball of impotent rage and anxiety.

    The one and only silver lining to having become disabled was getting my debt forgiven. I’m not saying being in massive amounts of pain every day of my life and not being able to even walk on bad days was worth it, but having that one major source of stress removed doesn’t suck.

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