HELLO and welcome to the 187th 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 Terrence Trent D’Arby! 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 Fourth State of Matter, by Jo Ann Beard for The New Yorker, June 1996
This is so good. This is really, really good. I didn’t know what this essay was about when I started reading it. Whatever context it had when I put it on my Instapaper had been long forgotten by the time I pulled it up to read and it was a beautiful essay that seemed to be about a dog that was dying, a woman that was dying inside, and her husband, who had left her. I thought maybe what we were getting to was a climax about the husband. So this is where I tell you, if want to know or if you don’t already know (this essay was in the 1997 edition of the Best American Essays) that this essay is eventually about a 1991 shooting at the University of Iowa, perpetrated by a former graduate student, Gang Lu. So it’ll punch you in the heart all over, I think.
I Was Killed When I Was 27: The Curious Afterlife of Terence Trent D’Arby, by Kate Mossman for The New Statesman, October 2015
Remember him? Remember “Wishing Well”? He was a huge deal and then he wasn’t all of a sudden and now he’s a pretty weird guy with a lot of interesting things to say about the music industry and Michael Jackson and government plots against him.
The Lonely Death of George Bell, by N.R. Kleinfield for The New York Times, October 2015
That proverbial case of the person who dies alone in a mountain of trash in a Manhattan apartment with no relatives and nobody notices until the smell gets so bad that the police are called — this is a story about the people who handle those cases, and how “death in such forlorn form can cause a surprising amount of activity.”
Ryan Murphy’s Professional Highs and Personal Lows, by Lacey Rose for The Hollywood Reporter, October 2015
A look inside the insecurities and desires and history of a man you probably have a lot of negative feelings about. Apparently one of his all-time career lows was in 2008, when FX passed on a pilot for a show he’d written about “a married gynecologist seeking a sex change.” So praise the lord that one didn’t go through!
I Kissed a Girl. And So Did My Mom, by Melissa Febos for The Nervous Breakdown, July 2012
On coming into her own as bisexual.
Perhaps the teenage girl secure in her sexuality is a chimera altogether, but being queer in a homophobic society tends to present special challenges, regardless of your background. The fear I felt kissing Lila in public caught me off guard. There was a part of me that wondered if I wasn’t really just straight. Did I have a choice? Was being straight the easier choice, in the long run? How much had my mother’s experience influenced me? When not dry humping each other’s legs to Tori Amos, Lila and I were often crying, without really knowing why.
Battle for #TheSoulofOakland, by Joel Anderson for Buzzfeed, October 2015
An incident at Whole Foods where a security guard violently attacked a patron who’d gotten into a heated argument about his EBT card has sparked a turning point in an ongoing conversation about the ridiculous gentrification happening in Oakland. Includes a brief but important history of the city’s composition and industries over time.
Death of a Valley, by Lauren Markham for Guernica, October 2015
It’s as simple as this: our current water habits are unsustainable. California is a great, slick hustler at the card table, bluffing a myth of plenty while holding tight the fan of truth: we are now, and have been for the entirety of modern history, running out of water.
No Tipping, by Ryan Sutton for Eater, October 2015
Well, this is an interesting approach. Danny Meyer, who’s one of the biggest restaurant guys in New York (his Union Square Cafe is always at the top of the city’s best restaurant lists), is eliminating tipping at his restaurants (gradually) and upping prices in an attempt to raise what cooks get paid and stabilize servers income ahead of some major changes coming up to labor laws. There’s also this very interesting “revenue share” system. (Also when did waiters start making $5/hour before tips to begin with, as they apparently do now? That sounds amazing? I made $2.20 an hour before tips when I waited tables back in the stone age.) Anyhow anybody who’s ever had a dog in this race will find this extensive interactive feature intriguing. Also I’m intrigued by his idea that “fair labor practices” could “become the next ‘organic’.”
College Sex 2015, via New York Magazine, October 2015
There’s a few pieces involved in this exploration of “how young people have sex now.” It’s uh, kinda what you’d expect. There’s stuff about virginity, the “agender, aromantic, asexual frontline,” l why consensual sex can still be bad, “a Big Ten basketball player on hooking up five times a week,” numbers from a survey of a bunch of college students about their sex lives, a photo feature where you can click on the photo to read about the sex life of the people in the photo. I’m not saying I “loved” all of it, but it was … interesting to read.
They Found Love, Then They Found Gender, by Francesci Mari for Matter (part of the We The T! Matter + Gender 2.0 Collaboration)
The story of a trans woman and a genderqueer human who fell in love in Texas when one had two kids and a husband and the other had been celibate for 12 years and are trying against many odds to make a life for themselves. Very interesting snapshot of a kind of queer life we don’t hear about enough.
The Lonely Death was a fantastic piece! I´m still wow-ing
The Melissa Febos-artcle was really interesting.
I’m curious to see how the no tip experiment works out.
My dad’s a retired restaurant manager and I asked his thoughts on the no tip idea. Tulsa’s labor market isn’t NYC, but his response was “Good luck hiring any good waiters if you aren’t paying $40 an hour.”
Living in France, I’m used to not tipping and happy to pay higher prices here. But expectations of service are very different. Your server here takes your order, brings food, leaves you alone. Need a refill? Have patience and try to flag the waiter down. It could take a while. If you’re desperate get up and find someone.
It’s not bad service, it’s just a different concept. It’s far more relaxing than being asked if everything is OK or given a refill every 10min, but it’s not what Americans expect. Waiters here can serve more tables at a time because of this, which keeps labor costs a bit lower and waiters *generally* less rushed.
There’s also an entire social system that means that a waiter making minimum wage here and working full time, you can have a higher standard of living than on $9 an hour in NYC. Labor laws are also stricter regarding holiday time, sick leave, etc.
I had some bad shifts as a waitress back home (OK/AR) and I wasn’t particularly good at it, but a week’s worth of tips NEVER averaged out to minimum wage or close to it. I can’t imagine having worked so hard for that little. I’ve worked a number of minimum wage jobs, but none of them were as physically exhausting (or emotionally draining depending on customers) as being a waitress.
I also think, psychologically, some people will have a hard time letting go of the power of deciding what their service was worth. For a lot of people that power trip is part of the fun of dining out, feeling like the customer is King and I get to decide if you kissed my *ss enough to merit my cash. It’s changing the nature of the relationship with the server. With tipping, servers work for the customer. Without it, the customer is just a customer.
Not sure why I chose to read both of the death based pieces you put up there. However, I will say they were great and now I will go watch puppies on YouTube. At least the Collie didn’t die at the end.
I had Jo Ann Beard as a teacher in college. She is a truly incredible woman with the most amazing energy. That essay is just… amazing.
I loved The Fourth State of Matter! The other thing I read that I loved this week was a New York Times Style Magazine interview in which Miranda July talked to Rihanna. Her admiration of Rihanna really comes across and Rihanna seems like a person anyone would love to know.
I only skimmed the blurb for The Fourth State of Matter, so I didn’t catch the context. The whole time I was bracing myself for the dog to die and then suddenly everything was terrible. Such a well-written piece. Thanks for sharing it.