Things I Read That I Loved #326: It Was 1997 and Everything Seemed Mostly Okay.

HELLO and welcome to the 326th 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 Starbucks!! 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.

A Father’s Yearslong Struggle to Regain Custody of His Son, by Petra Bartosiewicz for New York Magazine, March 2022

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s consistently remarkable to me how many stories exist of children being tortured, neglected and abused by their families (e.g., the Turpins!!!) and yet nothing is done by CPS AND how many stories like this exist, where children are taken away from their families by CPS without any evidence of neglect.

How Barnes and Noble Went From Villain to Hero, by

One thing I had never before considered is the fact that trucks delivering big orders of books to Barnes & Noble enables those trucks to also deliver to independent bookstores that have smaller orders. Also it’s great to see that reading has become more popular in recent years!

In the Pursuit of Hotnes, by Michelle Santiago Cortes for The Cut, April 2022

The epicenter of “how to be hot according to a very slim and expensive set of standards” discourse / dogma has shifted from women’s magazines to Reddit.

In r/HowToBeHot, hotness is an end unto itself. It’s not about coming to terms with your looks or learning to change your self-perception (though there is room for that too). Instead, the focus is on achieving the kind of hotness that is ostensibly indisputable.

The Blog Era Was Perfectly Imperfect, by Tim Larew for Complex, August 2020

As the internet has evolved and social media platforms have become completely congested with photo and video instead of text, consumers’ attention spans have nosedived. There was a clear transition from pre-2015 to post-2015, from compelling stories and creative music videos being the center of attention to all-out meme culture, where sensational, viral content is usually the primary driver of views (and thus, streams). The currency in the blog era was press coverage, interviews, and general chatter. Today, it’s attention by any means necessary.

I Lived the #VanLife. It Wasn’t Pretty, by Caity Weaver for The New York Times Magazine, April 2022

IT ALWAYS FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS WHEN CAITY WEAVER WRITES LITERALLY ANYTHING, also nice to know we share similar inabilities as drivers.

“To suggest that the worst part of vacationing in a van is sleeping in a van is not fair to the other aspects of the endeavor, which are also all the worst part — but it is cramped, slovenly and bad.”

Untold, by Tom Junod and Paula Lavigne for ESPN, April 2022

In the late 1970s, decades before the Jerry Sandusky trial would shake Penn State and the country with its exposure of widespread sexual abuse protected and enabled by a legendary football program at its highest and most beloved echelons, there was Todd Hodne, “perhaps the most dangerous person to ever play college football.” It’s a long piece but well-told and there are some REALLY HORRIFYING TWISTS IN HERE.

Angeleno Mixed States, by Porochista Khakpour for The Los Angeles Review of Books, April 2022

Wow I loved this so much!!!

There were several male editors at RayGun who’d been fired from SPIN for sexual harassment, and they didn’t seem to have learned anything. But there was a power in being 19 and having so many eyes — especially their eyes — on me. I felt dangerous. I’d wear long, tight white club dresses and black platform sneakers with silver glitter face makeup — the kind of thing that would be a hit at a rave, but I felt fine wearing it to work. I made sure you could see through everything. What’s the worst that could happen? People thinking badly of me, people wanting me? It was 1997 and everything seemed mostly okay.

The Nurse Imposter, by Sarah Treleaven for MacLeans, April 2022


“Bel Air” and the Flawed Logic of ‘Black Excellence,’ by Tanisha C. Ford for The Atlantic, April 2022

These shows [Bel-Air, Our Kind of People & The Kings of Napa] are obsessed with cash and glamour, reminding viewers in nearly every scene that African Americans, too, have generational wealth and sophisticated taste. For some Black viewers—the presumed core audience for these series—the glitzy theatrics provide welcome escapism from a world rife with anti-Black violence. But these shows also feel out of step with the cultural zeitgeist and with an audience that has been showing signs of Black-excellence fatigue for some time.

What Is a Dog’s Purpose?, by Caity Weaver for GQ, January 2017

I got nostalgic for more Caity Weaver content after reading the earlier Caity Weaver story!

By now, some people in the theater were sobbing. My own nervous system went haywire. I was laughing and crying simultaneously, frightened and amazed at how easily I could be manipulated into weeping by the simplest musical cues. Even as I saw the hits coming from 100 miles away, I was powerless to prepare myself; it was like standing in the middle of an empty New York alleyway, waiting to be run over by a car just leaving Philadelphia. Every time a dog died, even if it was a dog I had only known for five minutes of screen time, even though I knew these dogs were exactly the kind of pampered Hollywood elites who would rather eat caviar and drink $60 bottles of water than spend two minutes thinking about the struggles of average Americans, I was powerless to stop myself from bawling.

Was this a dog’s purpose? To make me unhappy forever?

What Happened to Starbucks: How a Progressive Company Lost Its Way, by Clint Rainey for Fast Company, May 2022

A fascinating fact from this piece is that customers are more likely to order complicated drinks on an app than face-to-face and that the level of drink complication Starbucks has gotten us used to is a complication for their burgeoning drive-through service.

Too Fast or Too Furious?, a conversation with Alex Parenne, Laura Marsh and Charles Marohn for The New Republic, March 2022

“Pandemic rage’ or increased usage of drugs and alcohol have been blamed for an increase in recent traffic crashes — but other countries haven’t seen those skyrocketing numbers. But what if the problem isn’t our feelings, it’s the streets themselves? This piece changed my understanding of everything related to driving and all the truly bananas ways our streets have been engineered — and why it turns out that traffic congestion was actually saving us.

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 3201 articles for us.


  1. Wow. That Penn State story. I didn’t mean to read the whole thing. Enraging. But also hopeful.

    The part about the football player telling the woman who successfully pressed charges against his teammate that he believed her and he’d protect her – that gutted me.

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!