HELLO and welcome to the 89th 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 assisted living facilities! 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.
An Oral History of Intervention (July 2013) by Natasha Vargas-Cooper for Buzzfeed – Oh lord I used to watch the FUCK out of this show. I was enabled by my then-girlfriend, Alex, who also had a sick enjoyment of Intervention which my present girlfriend does not share. But it turns out that it ended this year, for predictable reasons, like that everybody was onto them. This is a great look behind the scenes and includes an interview with Allison (“I’m walking on sunshine”) about how she really wishes they would stop showing her episode ’cause it’s really fucking traumatic.
The Nielsen Family is Dead (March 2013) by Tom Vanderbilt for WIRED – This is an extensive look at the new media metrics, how networks judge success of their shows based on more than just Neilsen ratings, like social media engagement. There are some interesting numbers in this, and a deep dark look at the prevalence of plot-relevant sex vs. sex-for-sex’s-sake on HBO.
“From Game of Thrones to the new Arrested Development, television is better than ever. And it’s not just a lucky accident. Turns out that networks and advertisers are using all-new metrics to design hit shows. Under these new rules, Twitter feeds are as important as ratings, fresh ideas beat tired formulas, and niche stars can be as valuable as big names.”
Exit Music (August 2013) by Rumaan Alam for The Rumpus – “…when I moved here, I expected the New York of Woody Allen films. Gracious, cavernous apartments, fevered and hilarious conversations over dinner. I’d know intense, moody women like Judy Davis and men who had houses in the country and produced plays. I knew this to be a myth, but it was a myth I believed in.”
Seeds of Suicide (June 2010), by Marie-Monique Robin for Guernica – How Monstanto’s hawking of genetically modified cotton seeds and eventual domination of the market in India caused a sharp rise in suicides amongst cotton famers — three suicides a day, at its peak.
**Grief Magic, by Emily Rapp for The Rumpus: Although I’m not sure why, yet, this essay inspired me to return to an essay I’ve been working on for Autostraddle about my chronic pain disorder.
“There are well-documented grief stages, most of which are too prescriptive and orderly to be true, but this is more like an addiction. An addiction to dread, or an otherworldy commitment to vigilance; an insistent grip on anxiety as the ultimate familiar feeling, an emotional safety zone. I’m like an alcoholic who doesn’t drink anything but worst case scenarios, or anything else I can possibly do to cause self-torment (erroneous emotional algebra is a special gift of mine, where something = something else, and the equation is always wrong) as a way of giving my brain something to do apart from ruminate on those final images of my son’s wasted body lying in his crib, gone.”
Life and Death in Assisted Living (July 2013), produced by ProPublica, PBS Frontline and Guernica – A four-part investigation of Emeritus Assisted Living Facilities, which have increasingly prioritized profit over actual care of their residents, leading to mistreatment, neglect and often death, while offering big payoffs to investors on Wall Street. It’s really really horrifying, especially when multi-million dollar lawsuits, let alone basic humanity, do nothing to curb these damaging practices. The priority was “putting heads in beds” and not letting anybody move out unless they died. I also recommend against google image searching “bedsores.”
Why Did You Shoot Me? I was Reading a Book (July 2013), by Radley Balko for Salon.com – An excerpt from “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Mititarization of America’s Police Forces.” The danger of sending in SWAT teams, especially to raid places where gambling is taking place, and the innocent men who get gunned down and murdered in the process. In August 2010, Florida sent its SWAT teams into black-and-Hispanic owned babershops in the Orlando area looking for guns and illegal drugs. Even without a legal search warrant, they handcuffed people and held guns to their heads and found nothing. It’s really fucked up.
Labor Pains, by Rochelle Gurstein for Guernica (March 2010) – On With 15 million men and women unemployed, our writer argues that the first step to fixing the job crisis is re-imagining what Americans should be working on in the first place.
Wrench (August 2013), by Eric Neuenfeldt for The Paris Review – Working in bike shops all over the place. A nice personal essay that might be relevant to your interests.
Haha my bike shop employee experiences have never been *that* gnarly, but I can definitely relate- one time I found $14 worth of empties hiding under a stack of tires, and I’ve spent more than a few nights drinking Lucky on the roofs of co-workers apartment buildings.
OMFG INTERVENTION! I am reading this immediately. That show is so love/hate. My partner cannot stand it even being on, and I love it. Everybody either hates it or loves it. I’ve often wondered about confidentiality and safety when I watch the show and also about how ppl feel about having that shit recorded & publicly available afterwards (I’ve worked with ppl with addictions quite a lot). OK I will just read the article now.
Continue to appreciate and always read this series! I don’t always comment, but thanks for keeping it going!
I hope you finish your piece about chronic pain.
alex’s parents HATED US for watching it, her dad would always leave the room like, “i will leave you alone you SICK FUCKS!” i think sometimes obviously it made me feel better about myself, ’cause i was like, well, i might drink every night (at the time) but i don’t drink hand sanitizer after being hospitalized for overdosing! But beyond that — and I say this as somebody pretty good at overanalyzing everything I like until I figure out exactly why I like it — I’ve got no idea why I love that fucking show
I hope I finish that post too SO MUCH IT HURTS
Yup, my partner has walked out of the room because it’s on too.
I know why I love it: because families are endlessly complex and self-perpetuating psychic structures of huge bullshit and huge love and that show is/was completely fearless in portraying that. So cringe-worthy, all the time. I especially love the middle class moms who go to places like the crackden trailers and then act like THAT IS TOTALLY NORMAL AND OK and LOOK AT THIS PHOTO OF DAVID IN GRADE THREE and then there’s the sister being all like, holy shit it’s a trailer that’s also a crackden, it’s a crackden on wheels, this is why I have caller ID. That show was a goddamn Russian epic novel.
Also I love that show because I’ve known/been effected by serious addicts and there was something gratuitist for me in watching the psychodrama I have escaped. Probably that accounted for 50% of their audience, am I right?
The family stuff is the core of the show. Some family members were so absolutely toxic yet there were always those people who were refreshingly honest about how they’d been hurt by that person’s behavior but made it clear that they loved them and still wanted them to get better.
I went through a period where I was incredibly depressed without a network of support and I would watch Intervention so I could pretend that those loving family members were talking to me. Pathetic yes, but sharing these life details is what the internet is for.
Riese, “The Nielsen Family Is Dead” may just be the most fascinating thing I have read all week. Seriously, It was freaking long, but I read every word and relished every minute. As someone who’s TV watching habits have changed dramatically over the last ten years (I literally did not start watching television until high school, and now I binge-watch about one entire show per week) this was informative as well as entertaining. It gives me a lot of hope for the future as well, since now maybe people will realize that, no, the world doesn’t need anther version of NCIS – what the world needs is more shows like OITNB.
Additionally, as someone who has worked on a smart, funny, and loveable television show, and seen it crash and burn due to deathly-low Nielsen ratings, this article gives me hope that one day those of us watching Netflix or otherwise streaming tv shows and who like smart, fast-paced, dense television, will no longer be enslaved to the whims of the old folks home residents and other Nielsen box-owning squares.
I remember reading the “Why did you shoot me?” article when it first came out. My initial reactions were: “Jesus, I’m glad that doesn’t happen in Canada.””The US has a fucked up power issue.” And then Sammy Yatim happened.
As a Torontonian, I felt the same way. I was so disappointed when I heard about Sammy Yatim. It sucks when police brutality hits close to home. At least Forcillo has been charged with 2nd degree murder. It’s a step forward to letting cops know that they can’t get away with this crap. Unfortunately it came at the highest price.
I love intervention, although some episodes felt exploitive to and I remember myself laughing because, “I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE!” It was just too much but I really sympathized with her (Alison) and wonder if all the subjects featured are still sober. I know some of the passed away because addiction is one hell of a thing to overcome.